A Debate Over How On Hold Marketing Benefits the Hospitality Industry

I’m shocked to read an article over at ehotelier.com. The article written by Larry Mogelonsky is titled “Why On hold messages Hurt Your hotel business”.  They hurt your hospitality business? Really!?  I’m open to have to debate with Mr. Mogelonsky.  Embarking upon our 23rd year in business, The Original On hold, Inc.  provides professional on-hold services to a number of well-known brands in the hospitality industry including; Ritz Carlton, Marriott, Hilton, well-known resorts and many others.  All who achieve great success with on hold marketing.

Numerous independent case studies have been about callers on hold  show that on hold messages are preferred by callers when presented with the alternatives which are dead-silence, radio station or canned music.

Here’s a few snippets of some of those findings:

  • Maxi Marketing  – “88% of callers prefer on hold messages to any other on hold scenario.”
  • Telemarketing Magazine – ” 15% to 20% of callers make purchases based on information they heard on-hold..”
  •  AT&T  –  “70% of all business calls are placed on-hold…”
  • Jefferson Denneandrus, Research Firm – “callers stay on hold longer, more likely to exhibit interest in the product advertised, and they were less agitated.”

And, just for added good measure, a National Survey conducted by OHMA (On hold Message Association) of companies utilizing messaging on hold,  showed 1 in 4 respondents said on-hold marketing generated real sales revenue for their business. Let me repeat, 1 in 4 respondents said on-hold marketing generated real sales revenue for their business.  So, callers prefer messages on hold, and it increases sales. Hmm, not too shabby!

In Mogelonsky’s  article he says:  “Having to put a guest on hold is not what anyone of us would call great guest service. Shoehorning in a sales message is what I call guest disservice. An on-hold message is required, but it’d be prudent to disregard any further voice scripts. He also goes on to write: “Whoever sells these pre-recorded message programs has made a lot of money selling something hoteliers simply do not need. This superfluous use of technology does nothing to enhance guest service.”

Excuse me, but I beg to differ! Obviously, you’re going to think my opinion is bias, because I’m in the on hold marketing industry, and if that were the sole case, well I’d say you raise a valid point. However, my opinion is going to be based on me, as a consumer, the very same person you’re trying to attract to your hotel or establishment.  I travel with my family, and I’m also a business traveler, which means most of the time I’m staying in an areas I’m not familiar with. In fact, most hotel guests aren’t usually from the immediate area, which means they’re not aware of area amenities, attractions, public transportation or whatever else is close by. So, informing callers about local attractions, restaurants and shopping is a good thing. Isn’t it?

Mogelonsky  also writes that “In the end, however, you still have to promote your wares. They aren’t going to sell themselves! But this is not the way.”

Once again, I beg to differ! You have a captive, interested and highly-targeted audience, so who better to present your marketing message to? Different industries utilize on-hold messaging for different reasons, sales, branding, caller retention, etc. A well-constructed message on-hold script is where it all starts.  The one thing I guess I agree with is that the message doesn’t have to be a hard-sell, but more of a subtle, soft-sell approach. 

Now, let’s say your hotel also has reception halls for weddings, business meetings and other functions. I call to  to book a reservation for my family vacation, however unless you have a crystal ball, you’re probably unaware that I’m also in the market for a place to hold my next big business meeting.  While waiting on-hold, I hear your on-hold advertisement mention that you have top notch business meeting facilities, catering and a host of other solutions, that I’m actually looking for.  As a result of hearing this information, in addition to booking  a reservation for my family I book my business meeting at your hotel. Viola! An extra sale, you might not have otherwise gained!   So, why wouldn’t you want to educate callers about these items? After all, when you’re in business you are trying to generate sales, increase revenues and make a profit. Aren’t you?  What about mentioning promotional offers or packages such as: weekend get-away specials, honeymoon packages, etc.

Mogelonsky also writes: “a pre-recorded script trying to sell you on a variety of items offered at the property or to give you details about property feature are useless nuggets of useless information”. 

Useless nuggets of information, Really!? I’m not a hospitality expert, but I am a marketing expert and find that statement shocking! Every brand needs to promote their benefits over competing brands, so if your property has benefits or strengths over a competing property, then why not provide those details to help guests in their decision making process.  Maybe you have an indoor or outdoor swimming pool that competing properties in the area do not have. Maybe you have an ideal location to local attractions or business. Maybe your hotel is pet friendly, or has a restaurant on-site where kids eat free. Mogelonsky  states: “This is something hoteliers simply do not need. This superfluous use of technology does nothing to enhance guest service”.  

Well sir, I say: “If on-hold messaging doesn’t provide a method of enhancing the guest service on-hold experience, then I don’t know what can?” Does silence help to enhance the guest service experience? Absolutely not! Does canned music enhance my guest service experience? Still a resounding No! Maybe this is why in the end, Mogelonsky includes that an on-hold message is required?

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