Santa's Hotels is a hotel and restaurant chain owned by Sava Group. The headquarters of the company is located in the snowy town of Rovaniemi. The Santa’s Hotels chain consists of five hotels all around Northern Finland, from the dunes in Kalajoki till very far North in heart of Lapland, Saariselkä. The business is family-run and believes in taking responsibility, positive thinking, living in the moment, and, of course, Santa Claus.
Santa’s Hotels grows constantly and the latest investments include, for example, a glass igloo village just next to the Santa’s Village in Rovaniemi at the Arctic Cirle. Especially Asian tourists with a soft spot for Aurora Borealis area expected to be interested in the igloo village. Previously, Santa's Hotels has already been offering glass igloo accommodation in Luosto.
Santa’s Hotel Tunturi in Saariselkä is a 260-room building with beds for more than 1,000 visitors at a time. We had the pleasure to chat with Eeva-Marja Jokinen, the Sales Manager of the hotel, who told us more about the company and als about the meaning of online customer service.
Chat as a channel for customer service: reaching the customers fast is important
The current Santa's Hotels website at santashotels.fi has served customers in its current form only for a short time, as the new site was launched this summer. The chat opportunity has followed Santa’s Hotels from the old site to the new - only the chat software at use has changed. The new Santa's Hotels website is focused on serving two main purposes: informing the customers and making online reservations. "We want to make it easy for the customers to make a reservation with us”, Eeva-Marja says.”.The website is also an important source of information to our customers, as customers online are often looking for answers to questions related to any topic imaginable, ranging from room descriptions to the hotel restaurant menu and the schedule of the artists performing at our hotel every night”, Eeva-Marja continues.
"The chat service has been a part of our website for years now and we all like it," Eeva-Marja says. "With the help of online customer service, we aim to reach for those customers who might not contact us otherwise. This means especially customers who are in a hurry and for one reason or another can't find the information they are looking for on our website. If a customer can't find the information they need it is important to have someone who they can ask for assistance, and who can answer the customer question right away, no matter if the question is about driving directions to the hotel or about who will be performing in the lounge on March 15th," laughs Eeva-Marja. "In addition to different kinds of enquiries, chat customers also make room reservations. All in all, the chat service has been an excellent tool for reaching the customers on our website."
The steady flow of chat customers reveals the trend in hotel business
"In practice, we take turns with Hotel Santa Claus in Rovaniemi in taking care of the online customer service. Our online customer service opening hours are the same as the office hours of our Sales team. Most of our online customers are Finnish, but we get also a lot of messages from abroad. Online reservations are made especially by Finnish customers, while the international customers more frequently ask for further information about the hotel, the surrounding area, the activities we offer, et cetera. The recent trend in reserving hotel accommodation on the Internet instead of making a phone reservation can also be seen in the chat activity: We receive a steady flow of chat customers, while our phone lines have become increasingly quiet.
Online customer service as a building block of the customer service
“In my opinion, online customer service plays a significant role in convincing the customer about Santa’s Hotels as a company”, Eeva-Marja states. “In addition to that, with the help of fast service we can affect the customer’s reservation decision. Up until today, we have only received positive feedback about our online customer service. I believe that this is at least partially due to the fact that making use of the chat opportunity is optional to the customer - they can also opt out, if they want. The positive feedback has been especially about fast service, as well as the informal “Puhu pukille” (rough translation: “Talk to Santa, a Finnish saying meaning something in the direction of “You have got to be kidding me”) welcome message. The fun welcome message has been a good way to break the ice and make the online customer service seem approachable. Works for us!"