Let the Season Begin
The railway line to the South West has been repaired, the sun is shining and the schools are out. Yes, it’s the start of the Easter break; and we hope the start of a long hot summer. When the sun shines, the beaches and hotels in the UK fill up, businesses boom and the feel good factor spreads across the economy.
So many of our businesses rely, directly or indirectly, on the holiday season and therefore have to carefully manage the budget so that out of season costs are mitigated or covered. It’s a tricky juggling match of income and expenses in which the weather plays more than its part.
But whilst some costs are fixed, others can flex with the business. Take hosted telephone services for example. Throughout the winter holiday attractions may tick over quietly before bursting into life at the start of the season. Cost constraints mean that businesses may not want to pay for a full system throughout the year, but neither do they want to lose potential visitors thanks to an overloaded phone system in the summer. Similarly, those running a B&B may want to take a short break in the ‘off’ season but don’t want to miss those all important last minute bookings.
The solution for all seasonally affected businesses is to install a hosted telephony system which flexes with business needs. Let’s look at a few examples starting with information lines. Often, callers only want to check opening times or prices and it can be tempting to think that a simple answerphone message attached to a phone line will be sufficient. But if one caller is on the line, subsequent callers will receive a frustrating engaged tone. With a hosted information line any number of callers can simultaneously dial into messages; presenting a professional image and helping to ensure potential visitors are catered for. During the season the message can be augmented with an ‘option’ service enabling the business to promote special events or to switch to booking lines; with this option being switched off during the closed season.
For other businesses a caller transfer option enables calls to be seamlessly directed to an alternate number or to a virtual assistant or answerphone, helping to ensure that every call receives an answer. Here again a hosted service means that switching calls between numbers is as simple as logging in to a PC to make the change, or switches can be pre-programmed. For example a busy B&B could pre-programme calls which arrive at breakfast time to be switched to another number.
For seasonal businesses the main advantage of a hosted service is flexibility. Take a service when it is needed; drop it when times are quieter. And with flexible call management on hand businesses can be sure that they are maximising their audience reach. Now all we have to hope is that after a soggy winter, the summer sun will shine.