In a saturated online hospitality market where every website guarantees to offer the cheapest rates, hotels often lose out on direct bookings to consumers who (quite rightly) like to shop around for the best price. Not only does this mean less operating profit due to commission, but it can result in lost bookings when a consumer shops alternatives and competitors through OTAs.
Quantifying the impact of booking abandonment due to visitors looking to compare prices is challenging, but a recent study by Salecycle suggests that 37% of those who abandon a travel booking gave the reason ‘price too high / want to compare’. So what can hotels do to reduce this figure?
Sam Wilson and the team at Shire Hotels have taken a bold step to retain the visitor, allowing them to compare their own price against Expedia, Booking.com, Hotels.com and Late Rooms directly within their own website.
Obviously a strategy such as this will only work if you’re wholly confident in your revenue team maintaining rate parity. However, even in the rare instance when an OTA might appear cheaper, Shire Hotels request the visitor calls them so that they may match or even better the rate directly;
Their new site has only been live a matter of weeks, but it’s a bold move and it will be interesting to see if this reduces the volume of visitors abandoning the booking to compare prices on OTAs, resulting in a higher conversion rate.
Certainly the early signs are positive, with Shire Hotels E-Commerce Marketing Manager, Sam Wilson, commenting;
“When embarking on the project we aimed to create and implement new innovations not seen before in the hotel industry making our site as transparent to users as possible. One example of this is the price comparison tool that features on our booking pages – allowing users to see that we offer the best rate directly in comparison to the top 4 OTA’s. We are delighted how the new site looks, feels & functions and are excited to report that conversion is showing strong improvement – doubling year-on-year since the site launch”