Hoteliers Are Getting Savvier at Driving Their Own Reservations
By Pedro Colaco, CEO at GuestCentric Systems
We recently caught up with James Bishop from SiteMinder, a GuestCentric partner for channel management, and we revisited the topic of the latest trends and challenges facing the hospitality world. Direct Booking, of course, was an unavoidable topic.
"Hoteliers are getting savvier at driving their own reservations, at driving their own direct bookings... It's driven by hoteliers and by larger brands."
Increasing direct bookings might seem like a difficult challenge but the truth is that little tweaks and t houghtful changes can make a huge difference.
Below we provide you with 8 savvy and actionable tips you can implement right now to improve your booking engine conversion!
Make your visitors' life easy
Make sure room names across all OTAs and website are the same.
According to Fuel and Filp.to, travellers visit 4.4 unique websites before they complete the booking. Why? One of the more important reasons is to compare prices, so if you have exactly the same names it's clearer for visitors.
Keep it simple
Don't have an infinite scroll of rooms/promotions. Once again, hotels shouldn't make the booking process harder for visitors. A long scroll of promotions / rooms will confuse and frustrate visitors, making the decision-making process more difficult.
Provide Exclusive Offers
Although hotels might want to maintain the price parity across all OTAs and website, for contractual purposes, hotels can still provide better off ers on their website by offering some extras exclusively on your website. For example, breakfast, a late check-out, extra beds, etc.
Create a Members Only rate
Still on the subject of parity, hotels can still have a members' only rate that is below the OTAs price. This can be a locked price accessible using a promocode that will be lower than all the other rates, making the hotel website the place with the lowest rate without breaking any contractual clauses with OTAs.
Have a booking engine loading message
Booking engines take a few seconds to open. Therefore, you use this time to share an important message with visitors. Hotels can take advantage of it to highlight exclusive perks of booking direct or even reveal the members only promo code.
Include urgency messaging (shopping activation)
Like OTAs, Hotels can really benefit from urgency. This has a big influence on the buying behaviour as it can entice visitors to book faster with less pr ice comparison. It gives visitors a specific and compelling reason to act in the moment and makes them more confident about their choice. See how shopping activation tools can impact your conversion rates
Include prices in the booking engine calendar
Taking a page from air travel, making prices for different days available on one screen allows visitors to quickly browse rates and special offers to find the best deals. This view will keep potential customers from browsing for far longer than the typical booking process and as a result can increase conversion.
Use abandonment messaging (shopping recovery)
Some visitors may have never had the intention to make a reservation in the first place. But it's worth putting in the effort to resolve as many lingering hesitations as the hotel can, because a significant percentage of them can be persuaded.
To recover lost customers before they abandon the booking engine, setup up the shopping recovery tool with the trigger exit intent. This way, every time a visit or tries to close the booking engine, a message suggesting a better deal will pop-up.
For successful revenue management getting your direct reservations strategy right is key for a healthy distribution balance.
A healthy distribution balance, according to James Bishop, "is going to vary depending on the location, whether they're rural or urban. But typically it's about ensuring they have a good balance of leisure, business travel and MICE." and to achieve this healthy distribution balance "hoteliers need to work with partners who are in a position to influence travellers in their booking and drive more reservations for hotels.
This will create that healthy distribution balance." says James Bishop.
As for the challenges ahead, he predicts that "It's about understanding guests' booking data, where it's coming from, and know which channels they're going to be using this year and in the years to come". And we could not agree more!
Pedro ColacoMore from Pedro Colaco
GuestCentric is a leading provider of cloud-based digital marketing software and services that help extraordinary hoteliers promote their brand, drive direct bookings and connect with customers on all digital platforms. GuestCentric's all-in-one platform provides hotels with the only unified solution for managing their guests' online journey: award-winning, high impact websites; an integrated, easy-to-use booking engine; social media marketing and publishing tools; a GDS chain code and a channel manager to offer rooms on Amadeus, Booking.com, Expedia, Galileo, Google, Sabre, TripAdvisor and hundreds of other channels. GuestCentric is a proud provider of solutions that maximize direct bookings to hotel groups and independent hotels from collections such as Design Hotels, Great Hotels of the World, Leading Hotels of the World, Relais & Chateaux, Small Luxury Hotels and Small Danish Hotels. GuestCentric is featured on Skift Travel Tech 250, a list of the top 250 travel tech companies shaping the modern-day travel experience.