- Category: April 2012 - CRM & Data Quality
The Four Seasons Hotel in Limassol, Cyprus, decided to become an early adopter of a new technology and adopted LiveWebAssist – an innovative multilingual business chat from IceWarp.The independently owned and operated Five Star deluxe property with 304 rooms, 6 restaurants, 4 bars, and extensive conference facilities, a full range of sports and fitness facilities and a shopping area with exclusive boutiques, watches and jewellery, is situated on its own sandy beach, which has been awarded with the Blue Flag - a symbol of cleanliness and safety awarded by the European Community.
The Four Seasons' management is constantly looking for effective ways to build strong relations with its customers and optimize sales programs. And since the hotel's website is its most important marketing tool that helps the property to attract and retain elite guests from all over the world, Mr. Nick Aristou, the property's Executive Director, decided to enhance the website with an online business chat solution. "Our objective was to make it easy for our customers to navigate the website," says Mr. Aristou. "Also, we wanted to convert as many visitors into customers as possible by making it easy for them to complete bookings."
Mr. Aristou, who has a strong technology background, did a thorough review of available products, but none of them could fulfil Four Season's specific needs. The main limitations were the lack of multilingual support, patchy compatibility with tablet users and absence of robust archival features. Then Mr. Aristou came across LiveWebAssist and realized it was the perfect match - a chat solution deployed on the IceWarp site. Although he couldn't get the last release, he decided to go ahead and launched LiveWebAssist at Four Seasons' webpage, assigning three operators to interact with customers.
From the very beginning, the Four Season's customer service team was making the most of LiveWebAssist's multilingual interface and knowledge-based support features to interact with customers in English, Greek and Russian.
- The hotel rapidly registered increasing bookings, improved customer service and rapid ROI.
" LiveWebAssist contributed a lot to this on many occasions," says Mr. Aristou. "Our analysis showed that customers booked because they were given real-time explanations through the chat service."
- The Four Season's technology team also liked LiveWebAssist's capability to recognize returning Website visitors. "The excellent feature helps an operator to resume the conversation from the same spot where it ended or had been interrupted that makes users spend on average 7-8 minutes on the site," said Mr. Aristou.
- In an approach radically different from other chat products, LiveWebAsisst supports the InLine no-flash chat architecture, eliminating pop-up windows. This design allows more visitors to initiate chat sessions, as they don't have to deal with popup blockers and assures usability for visitors from tablets like iPad or Android.
- Additionally, this option gives actionable information about the visitors' behavior. "It's a very useful feature. Operators can tell exactly where the user is on the site, so they can offer them immediate assistance, tell them where to go and answer questions with a high degree of relevancy," explained Mr. Aristou.
- LiveWebAssist's analytical capabilities helped the hotel to optimize its Internet marketing strategy. "LiveWebAssist analytics capabilities are very good, helping us to locate where our customers are coming from. It's a very effective tool, especially when used in conjunction with Google analytics," noted Mr. Aristou.
- Another feature the Four Seasons' team found practical is LiveWebAssist Knowledgebase. At any point of the conversation, it allows to insert pre-approved messages (such as terms and conditions, cancellation policy, etc.) as well as URLs and graphics with a single click. The option provides more professional outlook and helps to standardize responses. Besides, operators don't have to think about how to phrase them. Mr. Aristou said: "In the near future, we are planning to extend the knowledgebase with images and, possibly, videos."
- According to Four Seasons' technology team the training and ramp-up process was painless. "The functionality of the program is simple, anybody who can use a social chat program can get accustomed to LiveWebAssist very easily," stated Mr. Aristou.
- For the support function, the Four Seasons team used LiveWebAssist Direct Chat Technology, the VIP connection that gives dedicated access to key IceWarp support personnel. This option makes it possible to reach the important contacts - no matter where they are – at their desktop, off-site, or on the road.
" The VIP link option has been very useful, and IceWarp support team was very prompt, " Mr. Aristou affirmed. Thus, the hotel is now even planning to expand LiveWebAssist functionality, by considering its use on mobile devices, and, possibly, integrating the solution with a new CRM system. Furthermore, the hotel is thinking about hiring more operators and starting to use LiveWebAssist automated translation functionality in the future
Return of Investment (ROI)
According to Mr. Aristou's estimates, LiveWebAssist was showing compelling ROI from the day it was implemented. "Just from my own observation, from the number of bookings that have been converted directly through LiveWebAssist, I can say that it has paid for itself almost immediately," affirming that he would definitely recommend LiveWebAssist to other organizations in the hospitality industry.
"Selling hotel rooms is always a complex matter," says Mr. Aristou. "Usually, hotel bookings for five+ star hotels are a very high-value item. It's not a $10-20 purchase from Amazon. They are usually $5,000-6,000 per transaction and there are many issues for potential customers to understand before they actually commit to book. Anything that can give a customer greater confidence and prompt the person to make a decision to buy is very valuable. LiveWebAssist gives us exactly that."
By Roger Stadler