Using live chat can give your hotel an edge in the ever-expanding online presence of the hospitality and travel industry. Right now, the industry is growing at a huge rate, and an increasing number of people are researching, planning, and booking online.
In fact, recent research shows travelers can have up to 419 digital ‘moments’ when researching a trip.
This growth in online presence has led, understandably, to fiercer competition.
To stand a chance at cutting through the noise and winning bookings, hotels need to provide a high-quality user experience. They can’t afford to lose business because of poor website design and subpar customer service. They need to grasp every advantage they can get.
Live chat is an incredibly helpful tool that too many hoteliers are overlooking.
Live chat is a versatile, effective way to help your potential guests and significantly boost your bookings. In today’s article, we’ll show you how live chat benefits your hotel business and how to get the most out of it.
Live Chat adds a Human Touch to the Shopping Experience
The higher the price of a sale, the more resistance there is to buying. When you’re buying something expensive with limited resources, you do your research, take your time and ask questions – or at least you should!
In retail stores, staff are on hand to help overcome objections, explain the product and make the sale. Unfortunately, you don’t have that luxury with your hotel website.
Live chat is the closest thing to having staff members support potential guests. Think of live chat as your online concierge’s desk. It allows real-time interactions with visitors, without someone having to make a call or send an email. This is something the research proves visitors value tremendously: 44% of consumers consider live chat one of the most important features a website can offer.
Live Chat is Cheap and Convenient
Live chat sounds like the kind of investment that, while it may be worth it in the long run, is going to cost you a pretty penny in the short term. Fortunately, that isn’t the case! Live chat is easy on the budget and convenient. BoldChat, one of the most popular live chat APIs, starts at just $50 a month, and LiveChat is available for even less.
There are no charges for communicating, and no painstakingly long waits. Communication is done in real time, and you can easily have conversations transcripted and sent via email.
In comparison to other mediums like phone or email, live chat is anonymous and offers quick answers. Both of these things – anonymity and an instant solution – are incredibly appealing to potential guests. Some businesses even report up to a 70% deflection rate from calls to live chat. This boosts productivity, because agents can support multiple chats, but not multiple calls.
Live Chat Is Proven To Boost Sales
The sales boosting potential of live chat can’t be disputed. Research reveals that:
- 62% of customers were more inclined to purchase products online if live customer support is available.
- 38% of customers have said that they have made a purchase due to a good live chat session itself.
- The availability of live chat assistance has been found to decrease cart abandonment by up to 30%, which resulted in an increase in sales.
Online Consumers Prefer Live Chat
As shown in the graphic below, consumers prefer communicating with businesses via live chat. Leverage that, and make sure your potential guests can get in touch with you in the way they most prefer.
Proactive and Reactive Live Chat
There are two different types of live chat:
Reactive Chat is when the chat window page remains dormant until clicked.
Proactive Chat is more strategic, aggressive, and sensitive. It uses time cues, animations, and sound to draw attention to the chat window.
Hopefully not like this guy. (Image source)
The Chat Shop describes reactive live chat as being equal to “going into a store and browsing around, you can see the sales associate is in the store and available to help, all you need to do is ask.”
And proactive live chat as equal to “walking into the store, having a little browse, then just before you walk out the store, the sales associate approaches you and offers the exact help you are looking for. Your questions are answered, your purchase is made and you are happy.”
So which live chat type is best for boosting bookings?
It’s likely to depend on your customer base, but speaking in general terms, proactive live chat is the stronger option. It’s a little more complex, but has powerful features that reactive chat lacks.
How to Get the Most Out of Live Chat
Enough about the benefits of live chat. Next, let’s look at how to use it to convert visitors into guests.
1. Carefully Time Your Greetings
If your chat window pop up is too late, you might lose a potential booking. If it’s too early, you might come across as pushy and repel visitors.
Getting your message/pop up delivered at the right time is crucial.
For your initial pop-up, this will require testing. But for future messages, you can use triggered messages that appear when customers are having specific problems on your website.
For example, if a visitor is spending unusually long on the booking engine, or they are repeatedly filling in information incorrectly, you can have a chat window pop up and ask them how they are finding the booking process.
When online marketing company Logic used triggered messages, their sales soared by 30%.
2. Integrate the Chat Window with Your Design
Making your chat window consistent with your website design makes it less alarming and intrusive; it helps evoke trust in visitors. This results in less friction, and higher conversions.
3. Learn More about Your Guests
Live chat is an excellent tool for qualitative research. It gives you easily-accessible written records of guests’ pain points that can be analyzed for insights.
Getting visitors to book will be your main focus during chats, but don’t shy away from asking valuable questions like:
- What brought you to our site?
- How did you hear about our hotel?
- Is there anything that you are struggling with?
- Do you need any more information about packages, prices etc.?
4. Use Fewer Chats per Agent
Live chat is a powerful customer service tool; if the agents behind the tool are tired or overworked, the quality of your customer service will plummet. This is what Zendesk discovered in their benchmark report:
As you can see, more chats per agent resulted in lower levels of customer satisfaction.
5. Always Aim for Quick Responses
Ever contacted a business and been pleasantly shocked at their rapid response?
With customer service, small actions can leave lasting impressions. Rapidly responding to customers is one such action. Research shows the faster your response times are, the more satisfied customers will be.
Zendesk worded this best when they said:
“If you can’t get back to a customer in 30 seconds, you’re probably handling too many chats. That takes a new agent from four chats down to one, and experienced agents from six or seven down to two or three, and a super agent from ten or twelve down to four.”
Everyone can use live chat, and it can be a serious boon to your booking process. However, how you use this tool to solve problems and gather data that makes a difference. By integrating live chat into your hotel marketing and following the steps above, you’ll distinguish yourself from competitors with superior customer service.