Price Check Widgets – A Transparent Way to Drive Direct Bookings
The past two years have seen a relatively new product category hit the market for hotels: price check widgets. This sudden proliferation has come hand in hand with the increasing move to drive direct bookings. As OTAs consolidate, many hotels feel constrained by high third-party commission rates, and the benefits of a book direct strategy are more widely understood.
How do price check widgets work? What are the benefits to your hotel of using one? Which price check widgets are out there?
The premise behind price check widgets is simple: when placed on a hotel's website, it gives guests a clear, immediate way to see the price differences between the hotel's own site and the price on various OTAs. Ideally, the guest should see that the hotel's own price is equal to or lower than that of any third-party site. This doesn't always happen, but it's up to the hotel to ensure that their direct rates are better or the same as any third-party rates (there are a few widgets that will help you out with this – read on to discover which).
This encourages guests to make their booking directly. However, it also benefits the guest: it saves them time shopping around, assures them they're getting the best deal, and gives them direct contact with the hotel. This in turn gives the guest more flexibility in adjusting their reservations, and builds loyalty.
What Do the Experts Say?
We've reviewed and reached out to the top price check companies in the market today to get their insights and look at what makes price check tools so useful:
Nancy Huang, Head of Marketing at Travel Tripper, says that Travel Tripper has "seen our hotels earn tens of thousands in additional revenue" through their Rate Match tool. This is because price check tools allow customers to clearly see in the hotel's own booking engine that they are getting the best deal, instead of shopping around a dozen sites.
Sophie Cartwright at Guestline offers similar sentiments, adding that "It can be the difference between clinching that direct booking and sending them back into the hands of the OTAs."
So what are the options for hotels? Which price check widget is best for their needs, and where can they get it? We looked into the choices.
Firstly, we inspected stand alone price check widgets – the kind that can be integrated with any booking engine, and aren't part of a larger system. After that, we looked at widgets that came as part of a larger package, and the key differences between the two types.
Stand Alone Price Check Widgets
These widgets can be attached to any booking engine, CRS or your hotel site. They are free-standing, lightweight and can usually be styled to match a hotel's branding.
The first price check widget on the market was Triptease's. They invented the first widget, and created a whole new product category. Declan Ward, a representative of Triptease, says:
"It's our firm belief that direct is best. When we launched two years ago, we realised after months of research that hotels were in need of one thing: a way to drive direct bookings. We launched Price Check, our smart widget that shows live prices from OTAs on a hotel website, and things really took off."
Widely used and the subject of some recent controversy with Booking.com, it tends to be one of the first price check tools brought up in conversation. They boast 99.5% accuracy in the rates their widget shows, and work with hotels of all sizes. Unfortunately, they do not currently have any case studies available specifically for independent hotels. For their Price Check Widget and other innovations, Triptease were named European Travel Innovator of the Year at Phocuswright last year.
Their Price Check Widget shows real time OTA prices and compares them to your own hotel's best available rate. One of the unique aspects of the Triptease widget is that the tool also comes with the option of adding 3 benefits of booking direct right next to the price (like free wifi or early check in), reminding guests of the benefits of booking on your site. ///
Clicktripz offers "conversion solutions for travel." The first solution they developed after their acquisition of hotel data science start up TheSuitest was their price check widget. They designed the widget to help "travel suppliers and online travel agents (OTAs)" increase their conversion rates.
Unlike other price check tools, they don't seem to be specifically targeting hotels. Clicktripz works with a variety of client types, including suppliers, publishers, advertisers and travellers, so perhaps it's no surprise. Nevertheless, it's a broader arena than most price check tools are targeting, so they might have more opportunity for growth than other suppliers.
Convertio is a company dedicated to their Price Check Wizard, engagement messaging and a personalized offer engine. Their smart widget shows your own price at the top, followed by several OTAs below. According to their website, they help hotels garner 35% more direct bookings on average.
They also offer comparisons at both the hotel level and the room type level, as well as customizable displays for different languages and currencies. Here's an example of the comparison at a room level:
LiveRate's exclusive product is their price check widget. Their sleek, simple widget integrates onto a hotel website's home page and links directly to their booking engine. It places the call to action – 'Book Now' – right next to a strong motivation to book, making the choice easy for the guest. It can be compared with up to 3 OTAs and customized to match your branding.
Cloudbeds offers a PMS, a channel manager, a booking engine, and a group booking engine they call their "OTA-in-a-box", along with tools like their price checker. Their Rate Comparison Widget is a bit unusual in that it can be placed on any page of your website – that means it can be featured on your home page, booking engine, or every page of your site if you like. It's also optimised for mobile, which is swiftly becoming a necessity due to mobile's dramatic growth.
Their Rate Comparison Widget can integrate with up to 5 online travel agencies, and offers guests up-to-date, real time data. Their fees, which also include their booking engine and other features, start at €23 per month.
World Hotel Marketing
World Hotel Marketing, who also provide other distribution solutions and digital marketing services, call their widget a Rate Comparison Tool. It offers comparisons with "at least" 3 real time OTA rates. It's not clear if their tool is capable of offering further comparisons or is capped at 3, although in most cases 3 would suffice for a hotel's needs.
Their widget can also be customised for your hotel brand's look and feel, a must-have if you don't want your price checker tool to feel out of place or too ostentatious.
Price Checkers as Part of a Larger System
One way to ensure your price check widget doesn't stand out like a sore thumb is to make it a native part of the body – that is, to get a larger system that comes with a price checker of its own.
Here are 5 of those systems. Let's see what they believe makes their widgets stand out from the rest.
Hotel Champ offers their Price Comparison tool as part of their 'Triggering Toolset', a set of 10 tools designed to increase conversions. This kit includes tools like a USP comparison with your website vs the OTAs, live chat and an exit popup message.
Their price comparison tool is clean, neat and does the job. Their Triggering Toolset starts at €229 per month for smaller properties, so make sure you look into the potential value for your property before investing.
To Travel Tripper, price check widgets are just one part of "making the actual booking process easy and seamless for the consumer" – an essential concern to those looking to improve direct bookings, says Nancy Huang, Travel Tripper's head of marketing.
The Travel Tripper Rate Match tool is a little different. In addition to checking rates, Nancy says, the tool "will also price match any lower rate it finds on a third-party booking site." That way the consumer can be absolutely certain that they're finding the lowest rate on the hotel's own site, and if you've forgotten to adjust your rates on your own site to make them the lowest, the tool can do it for you.
Paraty Tech is a Spain-based company who offer a booking engine, online marketing and web design. Their Parity Maker is their latest tool, and has most of the features of other price check tools we've seen – plus a little extra.
Parity Maker compares and matches rates with OTAs in real time. Then, like Travel Tripper's tool, if the lowest price is not on the hotel's own website, the prices will be modified to change that fact. The prices change right before the user's eyes, giving them a powerful incentive to book immediately.
Price Assure is offered as a free tool as a part of Guestline's latest Online Booking Module. Sophie Cartwright at Guestline tells us that Guestline's Price Assure tool allows guests to compare the total cost of their stay on the hotel's website against up to 5 other online channels (the same number as Cloudbeds).
When checking room availability, the tool instantly returns results – there's no wait to see the comparable prices. Sophie says that "the widget uses controls within Guestline's software, and is configurable by the property, which can customise the messages that the booker reads." This is convenient for hotels wanting as much flexibility as possible in their price check widget and looking to ensure information is constantly up to date.
Everyglobe may technically be a stand alone widget, but they've partnered exclusively with Webhotelier. Since their price check widget is currently exclusively available with the Webhotelier booking engine, we're going to treat it here as part of a larger system.
Everyglobe shows a live price comparison on both your hotel website and your booking engine. Here's what it looks like.
All of these price check widgets have unique features to offer, and it's likely that some will perform better for your property than others. Ultimately, however, they are all trying to do the same thing: drive direct bookings to your site.
When you are developing a book direct strategy, everything that can be done should be done to get guests on your site and keep them there to book. Hotel technology companies know this, so watch this space! It's likely that the market will open up even further than it has in such a short span of time, and it will be interesting to watch and see which tools rise, which fall, and why.
Net Affinity is an Independent Digital Agency providing Revenue Generating Solutions for Hotels. Our services include Website Design, Digital Marketing and Booking Engine Technology. Our culture of award winning design and innovation together with a keen eye for emerging trends allows us to deliver services that directly impact on growing revenue for our clients. As experienced hoteliers we have a genuine and wholehearted passion in providing a complete customer centric service to our customers. We pride ourselves on the development of a relationship that allows us to nurture your business and ensure our success is your success.
Copywriter and Content Marketing Executive at Net Affinity