First impressions count. Guests form an opinion of your hotel as soon as they try to make a booking. By making that process as swift and painless as possible you will see improvements in your number of direct customers.
Making people spend money can be tough at the best of times; once your marketing team has attracted someone to your website the hard work has just begun. You only have a small amount of time between someone finding your hotel online, assessing the location, viewing the rooms on offer and making a booking. The final stage is where the largest number of users drop off.
Skift.com recently released a report that reveals some statistics around travel booking online. As an industry we fare worse than most other e-commerce providers: while the average basket abandonment rate in e-commerce is around 65%, in travel it’s over 80%.
Some experts estimate that for hotels specifically the rate of booking abandonments reaches over 90%.
Here are 6 things that you can do to make your efforts more rewarding:
- Reduce friction. The more options you put in front of your users, the more confused they’ll be. If there is an option which generates very little additional revenue – remove it. The general rule here is that you want as few clicks as possible between discovery and purchase.
- Speed is your friend. There is a joke doing the rounds at the moment: If you want to see if you should marry someone, watch them use a slow internet connection for half an hour. We all expect instant response times online; just one second of delay can make the difference between a quick purchase and a disappearing customer. Faster sites with faster booking processes convert better.
- Get to the point. Give people the option to book straight away. Some users might want to browse your wedding facilities or see how the restaurant looks but once someone has established that you are the right hotel – give them the option to book straight away.
- Don’t confuse the user. If a user clicks on ‘Book’ and they get taken away to a different URL that has different branding to the rest of your site, you’re adding friction in the form of fears, doubts or uncertainty. A platform that puts bookings directly into your PMS and allows you to maintain your branding throughout is essential. It should also speeds things up and work on mobile.
- Build a relationship. If someone has booked with you in the past and they had a great time, why not use that to your advantage? Even if someone booked through an OTA last time they could come to you direct the next and save you money on commissions. Booking data can be the key to understanding your relationships. If you don’t get access to it from your PMS – find out why not.
- Test, test and test again. If you aren’t analysing the results of your changes, how do you know that they are working? What seems like a good idea, may actually perform terribly. If a function or option that you offer does not generate additional revenue then remove it and test again.