Why Your Hotel’s Call Center is Your Brand’s First Impression

For hotels, first impressions don’t start with a handshake, they start with your reservation department or call center.
By John Smallwood, CEO of Travel Outlook - 3.31.2021

In today’s consumer world, a brand’s image carries as much weight as the brand’s service. Without branding, there would be no sure-fire way to differentiate yourself from your immediate competition. Imagine shopping for groceries in a store without branding. There would be no way to identify your favorite snacks among dozens of identical items.

A brand’s image gives the company personality, relatability, and encourages brand loyalty. For hoteliers, your brand’s image can be made or broken by your reservation department or call center, which in many cases is the primary customer touchpoint.

If you want to create and maintain a healthy brand image for your hotel, rely on a highly trained call center to help you do just that. Continue reading below to find out all the reasons why your hotel’s call center is ground zero for your brand image.

First Impressions Matter

In the hotel business, like in life, first impressions are everything. A good first impression can be the catalysts to a lifetime relationship with a customer and create brand loyalty that leads to repeat business. Alternatively, a bad first impression can not only deter potential business from one customer, but it can spread like a virus through online reviews, social media, and word of mouth and severely hurt your business.

For hotels, first impressions don’t start with a handshake, they start with your reservation department or call center. More specifically, your brand’s first impression begins with whoever is answering the phone in your reservation department or call center. If that person is rude, unhelpful, incompetent, and does not exude professionalism, then your hotel’s image may be in trouble.

Bad News Travels Quickly

An increasing number of customers in the hospitality industry are experiencing negative call center experiences and are sharing them far and wide across social media. A decade or two ago, news of a bad customer interaction would only reach a handful of people, and the impact on your business would be insignificant.

Today that is far from the case. News of bad customer service representatives, rude employees, or lazy workers spreads like wildfire over social media. Not only will a bad interaction with your call center discourage a customer from booking with your hotel, but it could discourage potential future bookings as well, which will leave a lasting mark on your brand’s image. With the broad-reaching consequences of the information age, no hotel can afford the negative repercussions of an underperforming call center.

It Starts with Training

A recent test of top hotel brands’ call centers found that the majority of call center employees failed to sufficiently convey their hotel’s best features.

  • Only 14% of tested call centers asked Discovery Questions.
  • Merely 7% adequately sold their hotel’s benefits.
  • Only 25% of call centers described the hotel’s rooms.
  • Just 25% quoted more than one room category.

In summary, if your hotel’s call center isn’t doing everything they can to sell rooms and work for you, they’re working against you and not fulfilling the potential of your brand’s image. A call center does more than fulfill the duties of your reservation department, they represent your brand and in doing so, become synonymous with your brand’s image in the eyes of your customers.

Overseas call centers aren’t the answer

You’ve worked tirelessly to craft your brand’s identity and separate yourself from your competition, don’t let your hotel’s call center hold you back. As previously mentioned, your call center represents your business, if you’re call center’s underperforming your business, and the perception of it, will suffer.

Outsourcing your reservation department to an overseas call center may save you money temporarily, but ultimately it will cost you bookings. While agents may sound polite, they may have a challenge with the American English dialect and the nuance of cultural differences in North America.

While technology advancements have allowed thousands of businesses to outsource work overseas, many businesses who shifted their call centers overseas experienced a significant decrease in the quality of their customer interactions.

John Smallwood is CEO of Travel Outlook Premium Reservations Call Center. In addition to the unique use of world-class call center technology, Travel Outlook is the only call center certified by Kennedy Training Network, the hotel industry’s best source for sales training and guest service excellence. Its luxury call team is tested by Forbes and Kennedy each month. Travel Outlook’s clients include many of the world’s finest hotels and resorts.

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