Is Human Voice still Necessary for Hotel Bookings in 2017?

A hotel’s website isn’t the only direct channel hoteliers should concentrate on. Although the good-old voice channel is assumed to be dead by a lot, it is better to be ready to be able to use them. Some might think it is not worth dealing with the topic because first, they think they could do it with their eyes closed and second, everybody has a smartphone, tablet etc. in their pockets so they book online rather than calling hotels.

But if you ask your front office colleagues, they will surely have a different opinion and will inform you of a surprisingly high number of requests via telephone. Do all your receptionists and hotel reservation agents provide your requesters the same answers and information when they book on the phone? Are your colleagues aware of the upselling power of voice channel at every stage of the guest cycle and can they realize and take advantage of these opportunities?

Let’s see why it is significant and how you can sell professionally via your offline direct channels.


Nowadays as lookers can freely browse your hotel’s website and book rooms online even on smartphones thanks to modern, responsive web designs and online booking engines, it is easy for them to make a call if they have any questions (remember the screens they are tapping, scrolling, flicking etc. actually belong to telephones.) According to recent surveys, the number of voice channel reservations has also grown with increasing mobile bookings and website visits (HeBS case study, 2016: 41% of the hotel’s revenue from digital marketing campaigns came through the voice channel).

When and how?

Think about last minute deals when – as a result of your fantastic marketing strategy – excited travellers want to book their rooms as soon as possible so they do not bother with online stuff but phone the hotel instead. Or when there is no availability according to the hotel’s online booking system and bookers are kindly asked to call the hotel. Ideally, your experienced reservation agents instead of just feeling terribly sorry lay the emphasis on finding a solution and offer other dates when there is softer demand. Adding the voice channel allows for more possibilities to help guests find more room availability. And these are just two of the many when it is worth preparing your colleagues to be able to sell hotel services personally and on the phone as well.

Personally? Yes! The moment when your guests arrive at the hotel and meet your hospitable receptionists face to face is full of great opportunities for upselling. On voice you can offer better room types, more expensive packages and add-ons, and merchandize other offerings more effectively. Why? Because it completes the digital, less and less human world and systems with its ‘humanness.’ Well-prepared colleagues are able to sense subtle differences and potential in communication, to grasp opportunities and to guide the conversation to create a win-win situation for both the guest and the hotel.


You can see from the examples above that in order to enhance and maximize the use of voice channels you need an accomplished team who can identify and react to requester, booker and guest needs, requirements and desires swiftly and inform them accordingly about offers, packages, add-ons and about better room categories and packages upon arrival. Front desk masters are able to deliver authentic hospitality and excellent guest service and kindly remind guests and would-be guests that there are many options to make their stay extremely pleasant. They are able to convince hesitating guests subtly without pressure, to turn uninterested ones and rejecters and to keep those guests’ good feelings and holiday mood who refused upsells.

In order to acquire these skills and techniques and to be able to use them smoothly, your staff needs theoretical and practical education as well. Mr Ákos Gyenes, RESnWEB’s CEO and senior hospitality trainer at BDO Academy offers comprehensive and practical training courses packed with realistic role-plays in the topics of upselling upon arrival and selling hotel services on the phone. According to participants, the training courses contribute substantially to develop a new, organized, effective voice selling strategy at hotels.

Why is it good for guests?

When guests are offered personalized deals, packages etc. in person or on the phone they feel that they are being taken care of and listened to and eventually they will be grateful for you to help them enhance their stay and purchase a better room instead of the one they have chosen. So you can build a deeper relationship with them (which leads to even more effective upselling in the future) that is you are able to grow revenue and increase guest satisfaction at the same time.

Why is it good for hotels?

Firstly, calculate it how much extra revenue your hotel will generate if only one of your receptionists offers better rooms successfully to just 2 guests every day – for instance, more comfortable, spacious suites instead of standard rooms with extra bed for families so they can be together but both parents and kids can have some private place at the same time; or for couples celebrating a special moment or event a romantic room with spectacular view fits the occasion more than basic room types –for instance EUR 35 additional charge/night means EUR 4200 extra revenue monthly for the hotel.

Secondly, it is easy to see how much commission you can spare if your reservation agents with a smart question find out which “website” is being browsed by the requester on the phone. If it is an OTA page your colleagues can helpfully point out that if travellers visit and book via the hotel’s own webpage for the same price (assuming that there is rate parity) they will receive for example a glass of champagne at dinner or late check-out as a gift.

Why is it good for your colleagues?

In an ideal world a hotel team has a true passion for upselling and they consider it as their duty, but realistically seeing today’s poor labour market an objective incentive programme can help a lot to slow down fluctuation and to make your professional colleagues who have the right attitude stay in the long run. Our team can help you to implement a well-tried front desk incentive programme in your hotel.