Travelodge Offers 24/7 Phone Bookings With Fluency Virtual Agent

- Travelodge, a UK budget hotel brand is offering 24/7 phone bookings with Fluency Voice Technology's speech self-service solution.

Travelodge implemented the technology to bring all of the functionality of its Web site to the telephone, giving hotel customers the ability to find and book its hotels by phone, 24 hours a day, from any location.

"A proportion of our business comes from last-minute bookings, made from the roadside or by customers who find themselves in a city centre suddenly needing a room for the night," explained Shona Fraser, Travelodge's director of revenue and reservations.

To capture more business from these customers, Travelodge wanted to extend the benefits on its Web site to guests making bookings by phone. The speech system uses Fluency's Locator, part of the Virtual Speech Agent (VSA) Suite ™, which gives the caller the ability to identify the nearest Travelodge hotel(s) based on a given location. Travelodge can advise the caller regarding latest availability, offer them the best rate for a room, and with Payment Capture can make reservations at any time of day or night. Using Contact Capture, the Fluency virtual agent will then capture the full contact and address details for the reservation.

Travelodge was introduced to the Fluency speech recognition application by its director of reservations, who had used the technology when working for another hotel chain,

"What impressed us the most was the fact that it could use our Website as its platform," Shona added. "We have invested extensively in our Website over the last 18 months, and are very proud of some of the innovative features on there, such as the ability to find the best-rate room in the area at the touch of a button. Fluency has allowed us to maximize this investment by extending the same capabilities to the phone, offering best room rates only previously available on the Web, due to the low cost of handling the enquiry."

 "We scoped the project in April 2005, the solution was built by July, live in August - in 270 hotels!" Shona said. "We were extremely impressed, and everything went very smoothly."

Travelodge expected the Fluency tool to handle 300,000 calls between August and January, yet the application managed double that figure. "Take-up of the facility by customers has been first rate," said Shona.

Travelodge is now planning to roll out a series of new services based on the application over the coming months. These include the ability to cancel and amend bookings using the Fluency virtual speech agent and to request hotel directions to be received by email or SMS message. Customers will also be able to identify themselves as previous customers, so that every hotel will know their preferences automatically.

"Our philosophy as a company is to reduce the cost of customer acquisition so that we can increase our room occupancy by selling more rooms at lower rates," Shona concluded. "Fluency has enabled us to do that. It is an excellent fit with our business."

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