You've got a much better chance of making a sale on the Internet if you can speak directly to the potential customer. Internet inquiries are less serious than telephone inquiries, so it's a good idea to ask cybervisitors for a phone number.
India Hatch, owner of Taos Valley Resort Association, a central-booking operation for northern New Mexico that does $7 million in reservations a year, does just that: She hooks prospects over the Internet, then reels them in by talking to them. Hatch estimates that 10% of the inquiries she's gotten through her Web site have converted to actual reservations, while other visitors still balk at giving out their phone numbers.
Hatch's technique isn't profitable yet, but "we'd be foolish not to be on the Internet," given its growth potential, she says. "If we could get 20% conversion, which is a great conversion rate for any central-reservation system, we'd be in the profit mode." Talking to people--humanizing the contact with them--is how she hopes to get there.