During the past decade, most major hotel brands have encouraged hoteliers to send all of their reservation call inquiries to offsite call centers. I recall the original concept was to create regional call centers to handle inquiries for a small, finite group of hotels within their geographic area. The idea was such an arrangement would allow calls to be handled more efficiently, reducing wait times, and local area experts could provide better service because they were dedicated to this function and removed from daily hotel operations. While hoteliers were sold on this fixed-rate model, as it seemed like a better deal, branded call centers then turned to reducing their own costs, moving away from the regional call center concept to having ever-larger “big-box” centers. Perhaps this model of an “order-taking” call center was ideal for the early 2000s when callers were suddenly armed with all the information they needed prior to calling, theoretically having fewer questions about services, outlets and amenities. Yet, the tides seem to be shifting once again in the reservations world. Each month I spend several days training front desk and reservations agents at call centers and onsite. Sure, the volume of overall calls has dropped, but from what I hear, the “distribution channel-surfing” callers who still call usually have specific questions and concerns. Many are confused by conflicting online guest reviews showing diverging opinions. Others are overwhelmed by the number of room types and packages and want help in deciding. Still others simply no longer trust the pictures they have viewed online and ask for opinions such as “Is it nice?” or “Would you stay there?” Get the full story at Hotel News Now