Posted 26 May 2011

Grimvotn Queries or General Sales Calls? Identifying Phone Calls to your Travel Business

As the Icelandic volcano Grimsvotn begins to quieten after a number of flight delays to some parts of the UK and Europe, many leisure and business travellers might be left wondering what could possibly happen next. After all, it was only a year ago that the notorious Eyjafjallajokull volcano caused widespread disruption to many holiday plans to sun seekers and city trippers alike. When Grimsvotn began to erupt again recently, it was a case of “here we go again” presented in the media. However, the reality seems to be a more short-lived inconvenience that is expected to clear up in a few days’ time.

But this has got us thinking – if an event like this occurs, how can you tell which phone calls to your travel business are related to it, and which are associated with sales? If you haven’t already got a call tracking technology incorporated into your website, you may soon realise just how valuable it can be.

Try to picture yourself as a holidaymaker for a moment. You’ve just heard that a volcanic ash cloud is heading down the UK, potentially putting your flight at risk. You’ve paid good money for your flight and accommodation, and you want to make sure you won’t lose out if conditions don’t improve. Chances are you will want to ring up to speak to a representative from that company, so you might visit the website directly or do a “brand” search on a search engine to find a contact number.

In this event, it is highly unlikely that you would type a “non-brand” phrase, such as “holidays to Majorca” or “cheap holidays to Magaluf” into one of the search engines, as it wasn’t your goal to find information about booking a completely new holiday. Once you find the phone number on the site, you then ring up and speak to the customer representative, which will then hopefully resolve your worries.

However, what if you want to make an enquiry that is completely unrelated to the volcano that is billowing out ash into the atmosphere? Perhaps you want to book a winter escape, or even your summer holiday for 2012. In this case, you may just type “holidays to Majorca” into the search engine, and enter a website through this phrase. You may then do some research on the website before ringing to book by phone.

Clearly, these phone calls are very different, and you need to be able to distinguish between them. Luckily, tools such as Google Analytics enable you to see how customers have landed on your website, and the pages which they viewed. You can also set up goals so you know whether these visits have converted into sales online. When customers decide to pick up the phone during this visit, you might think that it all gets quite hazy; how can you possibly attribute a phone call to a web visit?

Call tracking software does just this. Visitor level call tracking works by allocating a unique number to each visitor on the site at one time, so you can then draw lines between a visitor and their phone call. This is more advanced than keyword level call tracking which requires that you have a unique phone number for each keyword; this could be an extensive and an expensive option. Visitor level call tracking lets you track keywords without needing to specify them beforehand; you’ll just see exactly what they typed into a search engine, even if the term was misspelled.

Therefore, you can improve the insights you have into sales during a difficult time such as a volcanic ash cloud threatening your business. Then again, you’ll also be able to find uses for call tracking aside from this, such as whether your PPC ads are resulting in phone calls, and whether your SEO campaigns are being as effective as you would hope.

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