Bawa Group of Hotels, based out of Mumbai, has 4 exclusive boutique hotels. All of the 4 properties are located in premium locations and cater to both the business and family traveler. They are equipped with the state of the art facilities to provide a comfortable stay irrespective of the type of traveler.
We spoke to Harmit Kaur, Revenue Optimisation Consultant, Bawa Group of Hotels, about how Exotel’s long standing association with them and the business impact this partnership has resulted in.
Tell us a little bit about your business and why you started using Exotel.
Bawa group of hotels has 4 properties in Mumbai. We cater to both business travelers and tourists. When we started off, we had all of our 4 properties handling their own reservations. But that wasn’t really working because we couldn’t keep track of the calls that were coming in. We had no idea if we were missing calls. If bookings did not come through in spite of us speaking to the prospective customer, we had no idea why either. We weren’t able to figure out if our marketing messaging was working the way it should.
So, we decided to have a “Centralized Booking Hub”. And we wanted a solution that would allow us to have one central number that could route calls to the respective outlets, track calls, record them, alert us when we missed calls etc. And Exotel fit the bill perfectly.
How relevant is phone booking for you today? A lot is being said about the internet becoming the preferred medium for travel shopping. What is your take on this?
The internet is the most preferred medium for travel research. Think about it, even when I want to travel, I will go online, check out potential hotels, read a few reviews but even if I want to book online, I will call up the hotel once, have a chat with them about the facilities, clarify my doubts and only then be convinced of my choice. And that final phone call is of paramount importance. It’s a make or break for the hotel.
Phone reservation vs online reservation is still at 70-30. This is the biggest reason we need our phone lines to always be available. Reliability is a big factor.
According to a recent study by Google, consumers are still not ready to book rooms online. There is an increase in online payment for small ticket items like groceries, clothes etc. But, a hotel room starts at, say, Rs. 9000 plus taxes. And using credit cards for payments of that size is still something we don’t see happening very often.
Booking.com, the market leader in online reservations, offers options to reserve rooms without using a credit card. This, in fact, is one of the reasons for their market leadership. Even when someone looks up Bawa Group of Hotels on other online booking portals, they usually give us a call before making a reservation.
What are the some of the insights you were able to derive after using Exotel?
Exotel touches upon all the key areas of the hospitality industry – customer service, marketing, sales, and revenue. We were able to make some very interesting observations once we started using Exotel.
Increase staff to avoid missing calls
We saw that we were regularly missing calls during a particular slot in the day. And the reason was that we got our maximum number of calls in that time slot. This led us to increase the staff manning the calls during that particular time slot.
We were under the impression that we received lesser calls on the weekends. However, the reports again showed us that was not the case. So, we altered our employee shifts to ensure we didn’t miss calls during the weekend.
Calls from international customers at night
We also figured that the international guests were calling us at night because it was daytime for them and that’s when they were figuring out their travel plans. And we were missing these calls because we assume that the activity at night would be minimal. After the Exotel reports showed us otherwise, we were able to fix it immediately.
What is the impact Exotel has had on your business?
Exotel has also greatly contributed to our staff training. We use the call recordings to train our agents better. A real call makes a strong point and helps our agents understand exactly how to address customers, especially the difficult ones. The quality of our agents’ conversations has also definitely improved as a result of this.
Would you recommend Exotel to businesses in the hospitality industry?
Most definitely! Like I said earlier, Exotel contributes greatly to every aspect of the hospitality industry – sales, customer service, training, marketing and revenue.