Boost Travel & Hospitality Support with Trained Call Center Agents

A B2B Appointment Setting Call Center is vital to providing great customer service. Learn how you can increase the number of quality sales meetings.

Travel & Hospitality Support

When it comes to travel and hospitality support, many businesses tend to overlook the business-to-business (B2B) aspect of their market. Maybe that’s because most of the people they deal with are vacationers and tourists — business-to-consumer (B2C).

Booking high-quality B2B appointments is a great opportunity for marketing and sales teams. The only way to convert clients and win deals is by getting people to let their guard down and be willing to talk with you. But trying to get your team motivated and enthusiastic about hitting the phones and setting up those appointments can be challenging.  On top of that, the industry has long experienced external influences that have complicated things for smaller travel and hospitality companies.

Historically, the heart and soul of travel and hospitality support were marketing, sales, and customer service departments. During the Great Recession of 2007 through 2009, that gradually changed as online travel agencies (OTA) began playing a more significant role in travel and hospitality support.

The B2B travel and hospitality industry provides essential business for many area businesses as well, like function centers, food caterers, transportation companies, activity planners, tour companies, among many others. Typically, all of these hospitality providers are managed by larger third-party destination management companies (DMC) specializing in group travel. DMCs normally count on travel agents to keep hotels, restaurants, tours, and meeting halls booked.

By outsourcing a third party B2B customer service call center, organizations can regain an advantage over the competition.

What Is B2B Appointment Setting Exactly?

B2B appointment setting is done by an organization’s sales development department, consisting of sales representatives. These sales reps contact current and potential clients via telephone, email, messaging apps, and social media. Next, they will conduct follow-ups with current clients and potential leads, eventually setting appointments with them.

Sales representatives are considered proficient in travel and hospitality support when they’re capable of consistently scheduling appointments with high-quality leads. Travel and hospitality support can be performed internally or by a third-party firm.

Elements That Comprise a Travel and Hospitality Call Center

Travel Agency Support

Travel agency support provides B2B clients with a personalized customer service experience while they’re booking flights, hotel rooms, cruises, and package tours. These call centers also provide customized information such as the availability of top-rated hotels, executive transportation, and a long list of other relevant travel services. By providing such information, your brand gains a unique level of credibility with your B2B clientele.

By outsourcing your travel and hospitality support with Millennial Services, you will present a more refined customer experience. Our highly trained agents provide your clients with comprehensive, reliable information, increasing your clients’ faith in your company.

Hotel Reservations and Support

The travel and hospitality industry relies heavily on customer loyalty and word of mouth. Hence, well-trained, knowledgeable agents should respond to your clients’ calls. Hotel reservations and support require call center agents who will go the extra mile to make each client happy. This is highly valuable in a mostly digital world — adding a personal touch to your hotel reservation and support line.

Brand-driven call centers help hotel guests throughout the guest experience — from the time they make a reservation, throughout their stay, to checkout, and after that.

Event Support

Fill your next event with the ideal prospects by outsourcing call center event support. Since most organizations only hold large events occasionally, allow Millennial Services to handle your event promotion and registration campaign. Whether it’s an in-person event or a web-based event, we’ll work our magic. Our outbound phone support can also assist you in following up with potential leads post-event.

Transportation and Transit Support Services

Outsource a call center to help your organization manage its transportation and transit support services. Whether you’re a travel and hospitality company or a logistics firm, a call center can help you reduce costs, streamline operations, improve efficiency, and boost customer relations. Additionally, a well-equipped call center should have a technology platform that supports multi-channel customer contact. That means its agents can engage with your clients via phone, text message, messaging app, webchat, email, and social media.

Travel and Hospitality Support Best Practices

Agents are on the front lines of customer interaction, making them the nucleus of a call center. Millennial call-center managers hire people that represent the excellence and professionalism of companies we serve. These are proven leaders, who have the expertise to do the job well and are able to shepherd fellow agents. They work with their teams to boost performance, promote organizational growth and establish a competency-based approach when interviewing potential employees.

Newly hired recruits participate in an assessment program. This structured hiring process allows groups of new agents to work on specific tasks and undergo stringent evaluations.

As a result, those in charge of hiring call center agents quickly identify top-notch performers. Most importantly, those groups of people who train together will work a lot better as cohesive teams. Below are some additional travel and hospitality support best practices.

Train Your Agents Well

Millennial Services is committed to call center best practices such as providing effective, ongoing training in B2B travel and hospitality support. We develop our staff to be Grade A performers. In fact, new call center agents spend about six weeks learning customer service theory while practicing real-world calls under management supervision.

Additionally, training is not treated as merely something newbies undergo. Our veterans participate in regular coaching sessions and these techniques are incorporated in daily business operations. This practice keeps our skilled agents sharp, and helps us develop less experienced agents.

Furthermore, your team can leverage the best practices of your top-performing agents to help the rest of the team. That’s where conversation analytics software comes into play, so you can track all of your agents’ calls. From there, you can better identify specific phraseology used during successful calls. Not only will this crucial intelligence help your underperformers, but it will help you develop what material you already have.

Keep Training Varied To Improve Retention

Along with establishing requisite training programs, a varied regimen helps keep agents of all levels interested in learning. Some examples include practice calls, computer-based quizzes (you could offer prizes for top scorers), and classroom-style lessons. There is also cross-training led by senior agents who specialize in specific issues.

It’s also nice to incorporate fun training games specially designed for call center agents. For example, asking off-the-wall questions to see who provides the most creative answers. Or playing a good old-fashioned game of “telephone” to see how well employees listen and pass along information. The possibilities are only as limited as the imagination.

Communicate Well With Your Agent

If you want agents that communicate well with customers, you must lead by example. In other words, you must communicate well with your agents. From a psychological standpoint, working in a customer service capacity is mentally taxing on even the best agents. All the training and education in the world can’t compensate for the lack of a stress-free work environment.

Good communication includes setting time aside for focused coaching sessions led by upper management. There are two key advantages to doing this: management can share performance advice and suggest improvements; agents are allowed to share their thoughts and feelings about their performance, as well as vent frustrations. Industry experts recommend agents about their strengths and weaknesses during these coaching sessions.

Secondly, by encouraging a two-way dialogue, your coaching and communications sessions are more collaborative. That will make your agents feel empowered and give them a sense of ownership. This approach has long since been proven to be much more effective in the long run than standard coaching practices.

Avoid Using Negative or Apathetic Language

As a general rule, the best practice for any call center is the creation of scripts that recommend agents only using professional language. Professional language consists of using an upbeat tone of voice (yet not exaggerated) and key phrases. Additionally, agents should be trained to avoid negative language, apathetic tones, and avoid non politically correct expressions.

For example, many organizations train their employees to use gender-neutral singular pronouns. Another example is avoiding telling callers you’ll put them on hold. Rather, advising callers that they’ll be transferred to an expert or specialist sounds more positive. In addition to that, agents should do their best to provide callers with an estimated wait time and thank them for their patience.

Scripts and Quality Assurance

Scripts and action plans are important aspects of managing a successful travel and hospitality support service. They protect your brand, strengthen your confidence, and help your company avoid needless problems. Scripts essentially act as a filter that ensures that agents abide by your organization’s standards and keep on point. Scripts should be crafted and scrutinized by customer service experts with a knack for writing.

Coupled with well-written scripts, call centers need solid quality assurance guidelines or action plans. This is a high-value application necessitating methodical attention to detail so that it’s easier to measure operational effectiveness. Such guidelines help agents take pride in the work that they’re doing. As a result, agents are highly motivated to stay in their positions for the long term while giving customers the best possible service.

Lastly, any quality assurance program must engage agents at every stage, preventing occupational stagnation. Best practice for quality assurance is continual development, consistent roll-out, perpetual improvement, and complete team participation.

Zero In on the Metrics That Matter Most

Keeping track of call center key performance indicators (KPIs) and agent metrics is the best way to maintain high-level performance. Nevertheless, it’s best to zero in on the metrics that matter the most, lest your call center transforms into a data center. Call centers have numerous metrics to sift through, so the best practice is to keep what works and toss the rest. That being said, the metrics most call centers focus on are:

  • Handle time
  • Call resolution
  • Service level
  • Agent schedule adherence
  • First response time
  • First call resolution
  • Customer effort score
  • Revenue per successful call
  • Percentage of calls blocked
  • Abandonment rate
  • After-call work time
  • Cost per call
  • Net promoter score
  • Occupancy rate
  • Agent turnover rate

Being Able To "Sell" the Appointment

If your B2B clients have a great time, they’re more likely to recommend your business to their friends, family, and business associates. And they might just decide to pay you another visit for pleasure next time rather than for business.

Great customer service is the core of the B2B hospitality industry. Though your guests are in town for business, you should provide them with a similar experience to those on vacation. B2B guests usually have higher expectations when it comes to customer service. If customer service isn’t well managed, your business can be seriously hampered. Someone claiming to be a great “people person” simply doesn’t cut it in today’s business world.

Below are the most common skills we look for when hiring travel and hospitality support:

  • An ability to handle pressure. It’s no secret. Many call centers have some of the highest employee turnover rates of any industry. Many agents suffer from occupational burnout because of the pressure that comes with the job. They have to try to calm upset callers when they become irate for various reasons. In any situation, they’re expected to remain neutral while being yelled at for an issue they aren’t responsible for.
  • Imaginative problem-solving. Since agents typically handle calls based on a script, some of them can be caught off guard when they are asked odd or unusual questions. Of course, a small number of callers even enjoy “trolling” call centers. However, agents must remain professional no matter what the caller’s intentions are. For this reason, agents must be able to solve any encounter that comes their way. This requires them to be creative, pivoting quickly to match the situation.
  • Able to show empathy. Empathy is an important characteristic for every call center agent to possess. A gracious and amiable approach goes a long way when trying to establish a good rapport with callers. Agents must be able to ensure callers that they’re being heard by conveying genuine acknowledgment of customers’ concerns.

Our Goal Is Always To Exceed Customer Expectations

Millennial Services is a US-based travel and hospitality support service with agents that know B2B clients want to enjoy their time away from home. They may not technically be on a vacation, but there is no reason why their trip can’t feel as if they are. Our agents are reservation specialists, greeting each caller with a friendly and helpful demeanor. They’re well-versed in the travel and hospitality industry, so you can be sure your clients will be well informed before they embark on their trip.

Our omnichannel support agents talk on the phone or write an email with a smile on their faces and help your customers get excited about booking their next trip! To learn more about how Millennial Services can help grow your business and strengthen your B2B customer acquisition, contact us today!