By Ardalan Zandian on July 20, 2015 at 7:30 AM
Today's online travel agencies (OTAs) like Priceline are a crucial component of advertising for countless independent hotels, especially for filling rooms at the last minute or during low booking seasons. However, you should make sure not to miss the opportunity to delight guests with your own booking process. Continue reading for five easy ways to make sure you wow your guest with your online booking process before they ever set foot in your lobby.
With a staggering 90% of American's with a cell phone and 42% of adults owning a tablet, it's apparent consumers are using mobile devices to do more than ever, like making travel reservations. According to Tnooz, more than 83% of leisure travelers have ran into a travel site that was not optimized for mobile devices or mobile friendly. Out of those travelers, only 23% of them actually continued with booking their room. Simply put, it pays dividends to offer your guests a stellar mobile booking experience.
Keep the Navigation Simple
When travelers land on your website, are you making them jump through hoops to stay at your independent hotel? If you are, you are literally driving away potential guests. Based on a study by SaleCycle, 13% of travelers will abandon their travel bookings online because of a complex booking process, which highlights the fact that booking should only take a few clicks.
It's vital that all of your call to actions are easy to understand and highly visible throughout your website. By simply making this tweak, you can increase conversions. You can also use analytic data to determine where your customers are either getting stuck or leaving your site. In any case, a clear and intuitive path for making reservations will ensure your guests will always have access to the path of least resistance.
Provide Fresh Content
A significant amount of your visitors find your website as a result of other booking sites, which is known as the 'billboard effect.' In any case, they are at your site now and may have come for a wide variety of reasons. Most likely, they are there to compare rates and to see if they can get a better deal by booking directly through your site.
It's important to ensure that all information about your independent hotel, including rates, room descriptions, and photos are all accurate and up to date across all of your online sales channels. It's especially important to make sure all of your amenities are well defined because 77% of consumer booking decisions are based on the amenities according to TripAdvisor. You can take it one step farther and provide a true value-added service by offering your guests advice on things to do in the area and popular places to eat. In the end, you offer them the same service as a concierge.
Bolster Booking Usability
In any successful booking process, there are a few key elements you should pay special attention to, such as:
An easy to read booking calendar that fills in the check-out and check-in dates.
The check-out date must change according to the check-in date entered.
A booking progress bar to encourage guests to finish the process.
Detailed photos and room information that allows the users to easily differentiate one room from the other. ( i.e. garden view vs. ocean view)
It's also a great practice to provide users with credibility and trust factors, such as security icons and badges from well-known sources.
Ensure Payment Is Simple
Out of all aspects of your online booking process, it's vital for the payment process to be as simple as possible. Instead of sending your guests to your competition, use the following information from the SiteMinder report to make sure your payment process is:
63% of Chinese visitors suggest a complex payment page frustrates them.
17% of Australian travelers have actually dropped out of the payment process because it took too long.
Safe and Secure
66% of travelers in the United States become anxious when they are redirected for payment.
20% of travelers in Germany actually ditch the booking process because of concerns over security.
Flexible in Currency
French travelers are highly likely to abandon the reservation process if the rate isn't expressed in Euros
A third of UK and US travelers will forgo making a purchase if the rates are not displayed in GBP and USD.
With 86% of people choosing to make reservations online, your booking engine represents an excellent opportunity to cash in without paying OTA commissions. For an easy and effective way to optimize your independent hotel's online booking process, contact Frontdesk Anywhere.