'Guildford? Is that in London?' This very morning the central reservations of a large hotel chain asked this question. I was then put on hold while they connected me to their Guildford Hotel. After 5 minutes I gave up waiting.
The booking was a murder mystery dinner for 45 people in January, which must be worth having. This is a regular problem, it seems that central reservation departments for hotel chains are generally not very good. They don't help the booking process, they tend to hinder it.
It seems that the managers of the groups in question aren't testing their own booking process. This needs to start with a search online. Pretend that you're making an initial enquiry from scratch. Instead of trying to find your hotel by name search for 'hotel' in 'location'. You will find a list. First of all, is your hotel on the list? Next, is there a good description which helps searchers to understand what sort of hotel you are?
Is your telephone number in the search results? You can do this using, in Google's case, extensions. These can be found in your Google account. Your search expert will be able to advise, but if this hasn't been covered you may want to ask what your expert is doing? If a direct telephone number is visible in search you are ahead of most of your competition. You may get enquiries from this without having to pay for the click.
Now go to your site. Is a telephone number easily visible? Now you need to address the central reservations monster, if you have that procedure. Call the number and try to work out how much more frustrating it is than calling a hotel directly.
Many hotels are trying to push customers towards online enquiries. In most cases this is not ideal for agents. We need to send a proposal and we know that being first is a real advantage. We need answers, not to wait for 24 hours for a response.
This is an issue for all agents. If agency business is important then gather a team and have a session during which you pretend to be customers. Put a phone on loudspeaker on the table and go through the process. Hopefully it won't be too painful.