Oct8ne for hotels: How to use a new sales channel

04/30/2018 - Jordi Ordoñez

Let’s take a look at one of the most competitive industries on the Internet. Throughout this post we’ll focus on three very clear insights, three situations that represent the challenges of the travel sector and how Oct8ne’s livechat can represent a solution by becoming a new sales channel for hotels.

The popularity of chatbots

We’ve already talked about this type of conversational robots on more than one occasion. It’s an artificial intelligence (AI) software that can maintain a simple conversation using phrases and predetermined behaviors.

The hotel industry holds them in high regard because they simplify mechanical processes, but at the same time, the challenge for bots is making the transition from conversational to commercial. This is somewhat more complicated because commercial action requires the empathy and instincts of an agent.

One of Oct8ne’s key features is that it’s operated by people: businessmen and women who know much more about the hotel itself and the destination than a piece of software. The questions we ask ourselves as clients before booking a hotel are far more qualitative than quantitative.

A bot can tell you the square footage of a room or how far it is to a pharmacy, but it might not be able to understand that the user is traveling with children and the implications this has.

An agent can put together the whole conversation indifferent ways depending on what the needs and goals are of the potential customer. If we want to humanize the process and gain trust, there’s no question that a human being is the best person to do so.

The technological gap

Obviously, there are many cases, but the general rule is that hotels haven’t evolved at the same pace the industry itself has at a technical level

It might seem like a paradox, but with a simple search for one of the competing terms in your niche, you’ll clearly see what I mean by that discrepancy. If you do a Google search of “Hotel + city”, the paid results that you get back and the organic ones are taken over by brokers: Trivago, Kayak, Atrápalo, Booking, recommenders like Trip Advisor. As if those weren’t enough, some of the airlines come with specific offers, like Ryanair Rooms. 

All these companies are either 100% digital or have grown very close to the Internet. For a while they were extremely useful for hotels. They represent a great way to capture because, let’s not kid ourselves, they have the critical mass thanks to huge investments in SEO, SEM, social media, and in many cases, even offline with TV and radio slots. The obvious problem is that it’s costly for the hotelier who has to pay a hefty commission.

How could Oct8ne help the sector distance itself from these intermediaries? By becoming an interaction tool for one of the most important strategic profiles within the business structure: the revenue manager and his team.

Thanks to our livechat, you can work in real time with a flexibility that you wouldn’t dream of in PPC.  If pricing or the offer is compelling, the communication must be too.

Another important factor that comes into play is that we’re working on return through our own means. The customer can receive excellent customer service from the hotel, let’s let the booking platform they worked with take credit for that. Then, when they return to look for accommodation, they’ll go through the same company.  If our brand embodies this experience, we’ll start off as their first thought and they’ll look for our hotel directly in the future

Commercial skills

We pointed it out already when we talked about bots at the beginning of this article: each industry has codes and specific needs that help meet their goals. In the travel sector, the concepts of upselling and cross-selling are essential.

To ensure each reservation is more profitable, we need to get customers to make certain upgrades: more expensive rooms, staying longer, including breakfast, etc, which is decisively influenced by the psychology of sales. The work of a good business is understanding the motives and finding the persuasive gap to “leverage” a sale, but doing it subtly.

Another classic of this sector is cross-selling, where that persuasive psychology towards the customer is equally determinant. Starting with the knowledge and context of the establishment itself, the region and the customers’ motives, we’ll have the best guarantees to offer them extras like a parking garage or certain excursions.

We should add one last thing to this that, for me, is one of the strongest points: trust. It doesn’t matter if we travel for business or pleasure, in both cases we need to be guaranteed that we’re going to find exactly what we were looking for and, if possible, something better.

If users spend a lot of time looking at the photos of the rooms, the restaurant, or the pool, it’s because these are critical issues for them.  And if we guide them in their search?  In terms of the user experience, it’s very powerful to be able to see all the elements of a room and its features with the help of images. 

We have no doubt, Oct8ne can be a new sales channel for service and function based on the customer’s advice and knowledge.

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