In the bohemian enclave of Ojai, California is the historic AAA Five Diamond, Ojai Valley Inn, a luxurious retreat and one of California’s most cherished destinations since opening in 1923.
Located on 220 tree-lined acres, and surrounded by the Los Padres National Forest and the Topa Topa Mountains, the Inn’s 303 spacious guest rooms evoke the area’s rich history. Seven culinary outlets, the prestigious Spa Ojai, and Golf Ojai complete the scene.
Ancient legend suggests that visitors can feel the peaceful sacredness of the valley. Golf Magazine simply calls it the perfect place to “rest, reflect, and take it all in.”
Capturing data to improve operational efficiency–without sacrificing service or revenues
Ojai Valley Inn has everything a hotel could want: hardworking staff, great culture, and an amazing property. For years, however, the team was data starved. Willpower and devoted leadership drove success.
But crises have a way of exposing even great departments’ inefficiencies.
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Reservation agents at Ojai Valley Inn once dubbed their department “the red-light district.”
“Our phones would constantly flash red with waiting calls,” shares Miranda Cubillas, Ojai Valley Inn’s Director of Reservations and Recreation. “Abandonment was high and we had no way to staff intelligently to handle the volume.” Every missed call was lost revenue and lead data. “It was hard to watch this hard-earned demand go to waste.”
The resort lacked the technology to tie campaigns to calls and inbound interest. Ojai’s sales and marketing and reservations teams were siloed–along with the data they used for decision making.
“There was no way to assign ROI to marketing activities or make sure we were adequately staffed. We were in the dark,” says Cubillas.-Miranda Cubillas, Ojai Valley Inn’s Director of Reservations and Recreation
The departments didn’t share a CRM, so the call center team only knew when marketing campaigns ran based on call volume. “It was embarrassing when guests would tell us about marketing promotions we hadn’t seen yet!”
The disconnect also hurt email marketing effectiveness. Agents didn’t understand the value of email and information capture to help the sales and marketing team build smarter campaigns.
This marked the beginning of Ojai’s journey with NAVIS. The luxury resort turned to NAVIS’ Direct Booking Platform that combined voice, web, and email into a single reservations, marketing, and analytics solution.
When COVID struck, Ojai Valley Inn needed to crank efficiencies up again. Seventeen agents were displaced, call volume dropped 60%, and a wave of cancellations hit.
Ojai leadership faced a new dilemma: how to retain rates and lower guest acquisition costs without risking staff or sacrificing service.
The hotel also needed to claw-back reservations to fill cancellations and optimize staff as booking windows shifted.
The answers were buried in data.
The Full suite of NAVIS solutions for staffing optimization, overflow support, real-time demand data, and lead insights
Because of Ojai Valley Inn’s partnership with NAVIS, COVID challenges couldn’t crush the resort.
Alongside Ojai leaders, Cubillas and her NAVIS client success strategist gathered call, conversion, marketing, and revenue data to fine-tune decision making.
“Using the Nightly Lead Demand Report and call abandonment reporting, we re-organized agent shifts,” guides Cubillas. While reducing hours in the Spring was unavoidable, Ojai navigated the year without any furloughs–and saved money by limiting over staffing.
“We have the right people scheduled at the right time, even down to the half-hour. Data from NAVIS helped me position agents who were comfortable selling higher and more expensive room categories.”
The hotel also unlocked insights into the value of email campaigns–even down to the return on a single, delivered email. Agents are coached and incentivized around information capture to support better delivery, open, and conversion rates on marketing’s email campaigns.
RezForce Lux–NAVIS’ reservations service staffed by Forbes Travel Guide 5-Star certified agents–aided the reservations team, particularly during call surges and after-hours. “Our guests have never been impacted by staffing changes,” says Cubillas.
Although California state travel restrictions added uncertainty and impacted booking windows, Cubillas applied reporting insights from NAVIS to outperform the market. “I took into account occupancy, email campaigns, and historical trends. We not only kept our rate integrity during COVID, we increased it,” she shares.
Ojai also re-energized Outbound sales to keep the Inn fully booked. Her team prioritized coaching and data gathering–particularly email capture and not-booked reasons–to rev up performance.
Revenue up by 250%
“Not long ago, we were excited if our ADR broke $400, now we’re well over $600. Finally, we’re relieved of premature dial down,” says Cubillas.
Given recent challenges, Ojai’s performance is remarkable. “We use NAVIS to set follow up reminders based on guests’ past patterns in booking windows.” Cubillas’ team also uses the platform to learn about prospect behaviors. “Our team looks at data on how long prospects spend on the website before booking, and how long after hanging up with an agent do they call back.” Smarter data capture helps sales and marketing fine-tune Lifecycle and other email campaigns. No longer is Ojai’s email effort “only about booking a room, but finishing the relationship.”
The insights shared between departments “keep us one step ahead of our competition,” boasts Cubillas.
The Ojai team also takes advantage of smart agent routing and personalization to drive conversions. “I hear guests say, ‘How are you in my brain?! I was just getting ready to call you back!’”
The department outperformed August, September, and October of last year by 250%, 225%, and 140%, respectively, driving nearly $750,000 in Outbound revenue.
Today, the sales and marketing and reservations departments are in sync; agents know what campaigns drive calls, improving call personalization. Together, the departments look at booking trends data and can tag-team marketing email and Outbound calling to fill gaps.
Of course, the pandemic still makes staffing and call handling an imperfect science.
And that’s OK.
“NAVIS sets us up for success,” offers Cubillas. “Their service is impeccable.” Notably, NAVIS agents convert over 60% of inbound calls.
Further, the Inn got serious this year with NAVIS Marketing Suite and LifeCycle emails.
“I know exactly what the value of a delivered email is and I can incentivize agents to capture email addresses.” The team improved their email capture rate by 14% from last year and drove double-digit returns on recent email campaigns. Using Total Website Integration, Ojai sees what marketing efforts generate calls and emails. The attribution improves ROI on NAVIS solutions in a season where every dollar counts.
For Ojai, agent productivity is the final piece of the efficiency puzzle. But because guests are more uncertain, call times are longer.
“We use NAVIS email templates to shave our wrap time down,” shares Cubillas. “As well, I use NAVIS tools to coach agents on call efficiency. This keeps prospects off hold and abandonment low.”
Cubillas beams as she tells how the team reduced its wrap from 50% of total call time to 35%. “In this market, every minute counts.”
Although COVID risks like travel wariness and occupancy restrictions still loom, Ojai knows it is on the right track: “With NAVIS solutions, we have data that relieves decision-making fear. Gone are the days of gut-instinct planning.”