Always Respond to quote requests, Always!

The number one complaint we receive from charter-seeking customers who use BusRates.com may surprise you: “I never received a response from the company I selected” is the most common problem we hear from users.

The majority of visitors of BusRates.com call listed companies directly, but about 20% submit their trip details using our online form. These form submissions are directly emailed to the companies the visitor selects. On average, visitors select between 3 and 4 companies when using this method.

A study on company follow-up to these emailed RFQs in 2015 revealed a 13% no-reply rate. As BusRates.com does not interfere with the booking process, the solution to this problem is wholly dependent on our listed companies. We’ve heard a variety of reasons why a company would not respond to a customer request and have compiled three main tips to ensure that not only does the visitor receive a response from their selected company so that you can securing the booking you’re looking for.

1. Set up an Auto-Reply

If you are unable to reply to RFQs as they come in, set up a dedicated email address for your company (like quotes@buscompany.com) and set that email address to send an auto-reply to the customer while forwarding the email to your address where you can reply at a more convenient time.

The auto-reply should be a courteous message with your company name, contact information, and brief company details (USDOT number, a link to your SAFER profile, listed associations, and other value statements to indirectly sell your company are also appropriate). If you are more accessible by phone than by email, make sure the auto-reply clearly lists your phone number and instructions to call it for a quicker reply.

This auto-reply serves two purposes. One, it confirms with the customer that their request was received by you, and it also reinforces your company name and provides them with alternative means to contact you.

2. Let Them Know if You Are Booked Up

If you are booked up for the dates that the visitor requests, we encourage companies to politely inform the customer of this. It’s a worthwhile practice as some customers can be flexible with their dates. Again, your response puts your company name and contact info in front of the customer for the second time. It’s also a demonstration of courteous customer service.

3. Check Spam Filters and My Account Area

The third most common issue with companies not replying to customers’ RFQs is because the RFQs are no longer reaching the right people at the company. Employee turnover is a typical culprit here (the person who used to handle the BusRates RFQs no longer works there and the new employee either doesn’t have access to the BusRates account or doesn’t know how to handle them).

This spam problem can be on both the client and customer side. Because RFQs from BusRates.com are sent from one mail server but include the actual customer’s reply-to address, some network setups (in an attempt to block all invasive emails) accidentally block legitimate emails like our RFQs. Conversely, the client may respond to the RFQ but the requestor’s email has put the response into their spam folder.  So in short?  Check your spam folders regularly, you may be surprised what you find not only from BusRates but from others as well.

And to make sure you don’t miss anything you should avail yourself of the traffic reports on the site. You can view your full traffic report including all RFQs and their details at any time by logging into the My Account area on BusRates.com. The RFQs are always accessible here. If you find that your network is blocking emails from BusRates.com, you would need to contact your company’s IT person or internet service provider in order to lift the block.

How Big is the Motorcoach Industry?

As a whole, the motorcoach industry is exceeding everyone’s expectations! It’s green, it’s involved in your daily life, and it’s becoming more and more fashionable to travel as a group!

What’s not to love about an industry that is part of the greening of America and provides nothing but fun and good times?

UMA_Buses_are_great

Are you ready to make $25?

That’s right, get paid for doing what you need to do for your group anyway… book them a place to stay after they’ve arrived!

For a limited time, BusRates will reward you for setting up and then booking your groups hotel needs through us. That means if you find and reserve your hotel using BusRates we’ll give you a $25 Amazon Gift Card for the effort. We’re “The World’s #1 Group Travel Resource” and we’re used by both professionals and novices—so we know we can help you!

If you’re a professional group travel specialist setting trips up on a daily basis, the Mom who’s arranging for the team’s transportation and “stay-over” for the big game, the Dad who’s trying to get his troop to the “Liberty Trail” (a day and a half’s drive away) for their Citizenship in the Nation badge, or the school transportation director who’s arranging for the band to play at the 3-day state finals in the capital… We can help! No matter which one you are, you’ll definitely need buses, but you’ll also need group friendly hotels! Relax, BusRates has you covered.

We have thousands of hotels on our network and we’re adding more every day, and these hotels aren’t just any kind of hotel, they’re group-friendly hotels, the kind that group travel planners like you seek out.

If you’re in-charge of arranging the logistics for your groups trip, then you’re a group travel planner! Welcome to the club, and BusRates is here to help, it’s what the pro’s use to book their group travel with, so you can feel confident when you use us to book your groups travel with that you’ll find the right companies to help you. The professionals know that BusRates can make easy work of the difficult task of finding and securing travel arrangements for groups as large as 10, 55, or even 100! They know that they can count on BusRates to get the answers and make the chore of booking reliable group travel and lodgings much easier. So, look with confidence, get the bus you need, and reserve the bank of hotel rooms you want! Then receive $25 for a job well done.

** This offer has expired **

 

BusRates.com Creates Member Badges

The BusRates.com directory has created a set of badges for motorcoach operators to feature on their company websites. The badges promote “call to action” signals for charter customers. Operators who adopt the linking badges position themselves to benefit in education, information, and cross-promotion efforts.

A collage of three variants of the BusRates.com badges

Three variants of the BusRates.com badges that motorcoach operators can add to their company websites.

Education

The two most powerful marketing tools are the product demo and testimonials. Educating a potential customer on both can be accomplished through the use of a badge linked directly to a unique operator profile on BusRates.com. This linking strategy allows customers to view the company through a vetted third party.

The profile on BusRates.com effectively communicates a company’s services, while also displaying customer reviews. A group leader is able to peruse prior positive customer testimonials that have been submitted to the company profile. With over 90% of customers indicating online reviews as influential over their purchasing decisions, the testimonials on BusRates.com provide the opportunity to educate visitors of your company’s past successes.

Information

For operators who have yet to amass a repertoire of reviews from its charter customers, badges were also created to encourage charter customers to pen reviews for operators on BusRates.com. The badge can be linked to send visitors directly to a “Write a Review” form, which allows current and previous customers of a business to share experiences and spread positive word-of-mouth on behalf of the listed company. Prompting customers to share information about their trip creates new marketable content that helps convince future clients to secure a booking.

Cross-Promotion

Finally, the badges also provide access to a community, as links can be set to direct to the BusRates.com consumer advocate directory subpages including travel tips, charter guide, or any other valuable resources important for first-time planners. Group planners rally behind the BusRates.com bus owner directory and guide and expressing an affiliation helps to promote a motorcoach business’ investment in the industry in the eyes of trip planners.

Help in Adding the Badge to Your Website

Contact BusRates.com staff at 866-375-0800 (703-838-2955) for friendly assistance in adding the free badge to your website. The assets are hosted on BusRates.com servers to ensure fast page loads and non-breaking links. Badge links can be customized to link to a specific operator profile, review page, write a review form or other resources on BusRates.com.

 

Replying to Reviews

Most online review sites, including BusRates.com, provide the opportunity for companies to reply directly to submitted reviews. This is a public exchange visible to all future customers. A charming dialog between a happy customer and a travel supplier can help to encourage return business, but how should companies handle negative reviews?

Studies show, even if you had an impossible-to-please customer, engaging in conversation can bode well for future clients. According to a Forrester report regarding travel planners, it was revealed that when deciding between 2 hotels, 65% of people say that seeing a management response would sway them to book with the responding hotel.

Granted, a response to a negative review requires some finesse. Andrew Shotland, a contributor for SearchEngineLand.com, shares five tips for responding to customer reviews in order to turn lemons into lemonade. Also check out our round-up of BusRates.com-specific tips for replying to negative reviews that we published last year.

An infographic about online reviews

A snippet of an infographic with statistics about online reviews.

Reviews Extend to Social Networks

Product and service reviews also populate social networks: 40% of personal travelers and 46% of business travelers take to social media to share travel experiences (Think Insights, Google). Younger travelers who’ve grown accustomed to social media, particularly those aged 30 and under, statistically place a greater emphasis on others’ online evaluations. Of this demographic, 32% say they would not even consider purchasing travel accommodations without referencing others’ opinions.

Keep your feelers out on social networks to find individuals or groups talking about your business. Particularly, ensure you reply to all conversations submitted to your company profiles, as these messages are often public for all curious users. BazaarVoice, a company that provides a technology platform for unifying online product discussion, examined how conversations over social media can affect businesses, as well as how non-responsiveness can be destructive. Read the white paper here, which contrasts how baby boomers and millennials differ in reception to marketing and advertising.

Reviews Drive Engagement

Online reviews, whether positive or negative, help drive conversion and page views. They have been shown to increase loyalty and purchase satisfaction.

For BusRates.com, they help bring new visitors to BusRates.com and encourage them to visit again, funneling more traffic to listed companies. For an example of the permanence and popularity of online reviews, click to enlarge the infographic highlighted above, which summarizes the positive, negative and business role of online reviews.