Hilton Hotels Corporation
has announced that bookings on its proprietary brand websites during October 2004 exceeded call center bookings from 800 numbers for that month, representing a company first since the advent of website reservations. During October, brand.com sites overall reported more than 972,000 room nights, whereas approximately 863,000 room nights were booked from 800 numbers through the 16 Hilton Family call centers worldwide. The company also has experienced record-breaking revenues month after month through its brand sites.
The Hilton Family of Hotels brand.com sites include: hilton.com, conradhotels.com, doubletree.com, embassysuites.com, hampton-inn.com, hiltongardeninn.com, hgvc.com and homewoodsuites.com.
“This milestone signifies our ability to drive bookings to our proprietary channels and reflects powerful brand recognition among consumers,” said Tom Keltner, president - brand performance and development group for Hilton Hotels Corporation. “Currently with more than 13 percent of all reservations being booked through brand.com—a 30 percent increase over last year—we expect that figure to increase to 15 percent of all reservations by next year. Meanwhile, bookings on third-party sites, at approximately 2.5 percent of all bookings, decreased 3 percent since last year.”
A trend it expects will continue, the company attributes the increase in brand.com bookings to the following consumer benefits:
An assurance that guests who book on brand.com will receive Our Best Rates. Guaranteed.
Net Direct Rates(TM) available only through Hilton Family brand.com sites
Online hotel, air and car rental packages, often at discounted rates
eFolio, enabling guests with password-protected online accounts to access hotel folios from the past five Hilton Family hotels in which they stayed
Online redemption and exclusive offers for HHonors members
Ability to earn Points & Miles® as HHonors members
In addition, guests can make reservations on the brand sites with no booking fees and receive special recognition as HHonors members, including the ability to make Fast Reservations. Beginning the first quarter of 2005, the Hilton Family will offer Web-based check-in within 24 hours of arrival.
“Stronger online bookings translate to cost efficiencies which are then plowed back into technology improvements that benefit all of our distribution channels,” continued Keltner. “Additionally, increased consumer awareness of the brand websites for the Hilton Family of Hotels has resulted in more cross-brand bookings, which produces incremental business and higher market share for our hotels and increased revenue for our owners.”
Despite declining 800-number bookings through the call centers, Hilton Reservations Worldwide continues to report unprecedented conversion of calls to booked reservations - a 10-point increase in 2004 over 2001. Additionally, the call centers serve a critical function following the consolidation of all full-service individual hotel reservations into the centralized call centers. Total call center bookings year-to-date 2004, including 800 and consolidated hotels, are up 8 percent over 2003. Enhanced technology has enabled the call center agents to book reservations more efficiently with increased hotel and general information at their fingertips. In fact, the cost per call has stayed flat even in light of declining 800 calls, and remains among the lowest in the travel industry.
“There always will be a segment of the traveling community that prefers to talk with a friendly customer service agent, which is why our reservations centers will continue to play a critical role in our distribution strategy,” continued Keltner.