Most probably, travel agents, specially the ones who provides services like hotel reservations online, must be one of those who use telephone for most of their business activities. Though the big travel portals or travel companies have call centers which operate 24 hours a day for handling right from inquiry to ticket booking as well as hotel reservation. But there are many small and medium travel agents which have good web presence, but can not afford to have a call center, or can not operate office 24 hours a day.
But with implementation of simple IVR ( Interactive Voice Response) system along with voice mail system (VMS), travel agents can easily operate 24 hours a day and increase their revenue.
Why do travel agents need IVR ?
Many travel agents already have their websites which advertise their office phone numbers. Since websites are visited by people across the globe 24 hours a day, they may get many calls from all around the world, even when it is not office hours! So, if they use IVR, they can respond to every call, and with VMS, they can record voice messages from callers and many more!
There are many people, who finalise their programs at the last moment and require to book hotels at the last moment too! These kind of business traveler try to book hotel searching in internet and by calling office numbers listed in a website of the travel agents, even at non-office hours, hoping against hopes! These kind of calls not only help convert an enquiry quickly, but also help get a good price for the travel agents.
What kind of IVR travel agents require ?
While IVR can have many features for any type of industry, but travel agents need three features which may prove to be really useful :-
a. Database Look up and playback
The travel agent IVR should be capable of looking up hotel reservation database or API to be able to provide reservation availability to any caller. This will reduce burden of manpower involved during office hours and would be useful for caller at non-office hours! Apart from this, database look up capability can detect regular client for travel agents.
b. On Demand Call Bridging Facility
The IVR should be capable of making an outbound call and bridge them together. With database look up capability, IVR would be able to detect a regular client and that is when the call can be treated an urgent call and the call can be then connected to some one responsible who can help. This will increase customer loyalty as well as reputation.
c. Voice Mail System and Email/SMS (Short Messaging Service) alert
Voice Mail System is a must for IVR for travel agents. Using this voice mail system, a caller at non-office hours can leave a voice message on the IVR. By email and SMS alert system, some one responsible will be immediately notified of the voice message, who can listen to the voice mail either by dialing or through web interface.
Normally, serious caller will only leave a voice mail. So, this facility can effectively work as a call screening during non-office hours.
So, a smart IVR can surely increase revenue for any travel agent immediately. If you own a travel company and if you do not have IVR installed, then most probably, you are losing some business!