Hilton is to phase out hotel reservation desks in favour of its own branded internet booking sites and call centres, despite recent research which indicates that online hotel services are failing to deliver.
Tim Davis, Hilton's senior vice-president of distribution and e-commerce, said: "The expectation is clusters of hotels will change to call centres." He added that over the next five years a significant proportion of hotels' reservation desks would be transferred to central call centres. "We don't expect job losses, but there will be benefits in increased revenue from cross-selling and converting more calls into reservations," said Davis.
Hilton Reservations Worldwide currently takes 12% of the worldwide bookings and Davis told Caterer his aim was to raise this to 20% by 2008.
A recent worldwide survey of 330 hotels by KPMG criticised the industry's online practices as a whole, although it singled out Hilton's reservation system as the most reliable. The research found that three-quarters of hotels fail to deliver on their web price guarantees, and fewer than a fifth of UK hotels honour web prices.
Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 21 April 2005