As travel increases over the summer and fall months, especially since the U.S lifted travel restrictions, the pressure on hospitality companies to accommodate invigorated tourism needs is intensifying. To meet this challenge, hospitality brands are turning to contact centers to manage an influx of calls and drive bookings/sales.
For example, hotels often rely on contact center agents to respond to inquiries, manage billing, and confirm bookings to help lift the burden off of their front desk staff. Agents are increasingly managing complex and time-sensitive customer calls/messages as travelers often have last minute changes and requests, many of which have been amplified by an increase in flight cancellations this summer.
However, while contact centers can drastically improve dreaded call wait times and reduce potential frustration, they don't always have the staff required to manage a massive influx of calls. Fortunately, new contact center AI technology is helping agents and managers alike to be significantly more effective. Modern contact centers use real-time conversation analysis to coach agents on the optimal ways to respond to calls, not only helping them conduct calls more efficiently, but also leading to better sales and more satisfied consumers. Additionally, many businesses are beginning to rely on chat functions to process the onslaught of consumer requests. By utilizing intelligently automated chatbots, brands can more intentionally ensure requests are being handled quickly.
These platforms have had a tremendous impact on the hospitality industry and are helping travel and tourism brands address several major pain points:
REDUCING HOLD TIMES
No one likes waiting on hold – but especially frustrated travelers. It can be a stressful experience to coordinate flights, hotels, rental cars and more, particularly because many are often sold-out or selling fast. A last minute flight cancellation or delay can throw off a travelers entire plan.
These issues are only amplified in the summer and fall months as wanderlusts begin travel in droves. As you can imagine, this can lead to an avalanche of calls and messages across every channel. Hotels and airlines often don’t have the bandwidth to respond in a timely manner. Frustrated customers on hold is not a good recipe for a positive brand reputation and can lead to poor social media reviews, canceled hotel reservations, and more.
Fortunately, contact center AI platforms can alleviate these issues in a variety of ways.
First, modern platforms will provide real-time insights to a contact center agent to help them manage calls more efficiently. The AI platform analyzes a conversation in real-time and prompts an agent on how to best respond to a customer and solve their needs quickly. The technology enables agents to deftly navigate challenging questions or scenarios by acting as a virtual guide (similar to modern virtual assistants like Alexa or Siri). Not only does this keep customers happy, but it also allows agents to quickly pivot to the next caller.
But not all calls require an agent interaction, and some contact center platforms will also offer chatbots that can help customers to quickly address their needs. Automated chatbots can respond to customers instantly and can help solve issues that don’t require a phone call. Hospitality brands can program their chatbots to instantly respond to common questions or even more advanced queries.
For example, a restaurant chatbot could respond to questions such as: “When is the Happy Hour?” or “Do you take reservations?” A hotel chatbot could automatically respond to questions about front desk hours, cancellation policy, or room availability.
Additionally, not all customer inquiries come during the day. In fact, it's highly likely, particularly for international travelers, that calls will come at odd hours of the night and it's not always a guarantee that someone will be around to answer the phones. Contact centers typically operate 24 hours, so an agent will always be available to address a customer’s needs.
While increased summer travel may be a stressor for holiday brands, it also represents a tremendous sales opportunity. However, the influx of calls and messages can make it difficult for companies to both prioritize sales and remain attentive to existing customers.
Hotels, for example, can utilize contact centers as an effective way to manage high-volume calls and keep the bookings rolling in. Trained call center agents will have a strong understanding of the unique features of an individual hotel, and will be able to adeptly field customer calls and convert leads into sales. This allows hotel staff to focus their attention on providing the best possible experience for their in-person guests.
Contact center agents can use the same real-time AI platforms to not only enhance customer service, but also to improve sales. The platform’s real-time analysis will advise the agents on the best words and responses to convert leads. Not only does this drive sales, but it also makes agents significantly more effective and frees-up time to pivot to other calls.
Additionally, contact center agents have access to real-time coaching where a manager can advise them on the best way to improve a conversation. Hospitality brands can rest easy knowing that their contact centers are continuously seeking to improve and drive leads.
Contact centers and their AI platforms have emerged as a vital technology to the hospitality industry. Using this innovative technology, hospitality brands can not only survive the busy summer travel months, but also transform their customer experiences and drive sales.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Zayd Enam is the CEO & Co-founder of Cresta, the leading solution for Real-Time Intelligence for contact centers. Cresta is backed by Sequoia Capital, Tiger Global, Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock Partners, JP Morgan, as well as Zoom, Genesys, and Five9. Prior to founding Cresta, Enam was doing his PhD study at Stanford University, where his thesis formed the basis for Cresta. Before that, he was a Haas Scholar at UC Berkeley, where he graduated with high honors in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. Enam was selected to be on the Forbes enterprise technology list and is a winner of the Asia Pacific ICT award. Under his leadership, Cresta has been named One Of The Most Promising AI Companies and Top 50 AI Companies by Forbes, won the Most Innovative Product by the CX Awards in 2022, and was identified as an AI Top 40 by Goldman Sachs and Madrona.