Hotels can invest hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars each month driving traffic to their website. But if your website isn’t optimized to drive direct bookings, then all that time and money is wasted.
Common reasons for booking abandonment
Let’s start by looking at some of the common reasons why travel shoppers abandon their bookings online.
According to SalesCycle, 39% of travel shoppers are often just researching and comparing prices on your website, which comes as no surprise. However, other reasons for booking abandonment include finding the price too high (37%), the reservation process too long (13%) or encountering technical issues (9%). The good news is, these things can be fixed.
TIP #1: Tell your unique story
“Price is too high” can mean one of two things:
1. The price exceeds a travel shopper’s budget
2. The price doesn’t match the perceived value of the hotel
There’s not much you can do about someone’s budget, but there is a way to improve your hotel’s perceived value.
This is where storytelling comes into play. Use your website to demonstrate what makes your hotel unique from all the others in your area. Don’t discount your uniqueness, and play up to it on your website.
As humans, we love to hear stories. We connect with stories and we remember stories. And that’s the goal – to remain memorable as someone moves through their travel shopping journey.
TIP #2: Give them a reason to book direct
You’d be surprised by how many websites fail to mention this, or actively promote it. How do travel shoppers know you want them to book directly unless you spell it out (and make it worth their while)?
Consider creating a special offer for direct bookings. This doesn’t have to centre on price. It could be something as simple as a complimentary drink on arrival, faster WiFi, early check-in/late check-out, or first pick of the best rooms.
A special offer doesn’t have to be big or expensive for someone to feel motivated to book direct. They just have to feel like they’re getting the best value by booking on your website.
Whatever you’re special offer is, make sure you call it out explicitly on your website – on the homepage, under special offers, in your room type descriptions – everywhere!
My City Hotel in Tallinn does an excellent job of this on its website.
As soon as you hit the homepage, you see 5 reasons to book direct, including a guaranteed best rate, complimentary fruit basket and water, priority room upgrade and early check-in service, and a better understanding of what are you paying for.
Travel shoppers can’t help but remember this offer as they hunt for the perfect hotel in Tallinn. And there’s a strong incentive to return to the My City Hotel to complete the booking!
TIP #3: Optimize the online booking experience
How easy is it to book a room on your website? Have you tested it? On all devices? If not, do so immediately. Better yet, ask a stranger to do it, and watch them navigate your website. This will uncover how intuitive the booking experience really is, whether you have seamless booking engine integration, and how long the booking process actually takes.
Armed with this intel, you can then optimize the booking experience.
Start by looking at the amount of information you ask for at the time of booking. Studies suggest that every unnecessary step in your checkout process costs you about 10% of your customers.
Only ask for what you need to complete the booking, and remove any unnecessary form fields. You can gather more information about your guests once the reservation is made.
Check whether your booking engine is compatible with mobile.
According to Criteo, mobile bookings for airlines and hotels made up 27 per cent of all online travel bookings worldwide during Q2 2016. This trend is only going to continue.
Your website needs to be equipped to handle mobile bookings. If it’s not, contact ED for hotels and we will help to support your mobile needs.
Online booking abandonment is a real problem for the travel industry, but there are small things you can do on your website to improve conversions. Start with your content. Call out explicitly what makes your hotel unique and why someone should book directly with you. Then review your online booking process. Is it simple and easy to book with you?