So, you’ve spent hours and budget to get targeted traffic to your website and booking engine – the question now is: are you doing all you can to convert this traffic from “lookers” to bookers?
A question myself and the Ecommerce team at Avvio discuss regularly with our hotel partners. Booking engine conversion rate simply put is a measure of the traffic landing on your booking engine which then converts to a booking – a metric that is crucial in maximising your website revenue and the key to increasing your direct bookings.
Booking engine conversion rate is obviously greatly influenced by rate and availability – but outside of these, there are a number of additional key factors we encourage clients to consider. Clients will often ask “what should my booking engine conversion rate be?” and the answer to this is that booking engine conversion rate varies so much based on your location, grading and type of property – it makes sense to measure your booking engine conversion rate within your comp set or on a year-on-year basis. For example, an airport property can often have an extremely high booking engine conversion rate whereas a high-end resort will often be on the lower end of the scale. It often surprises clients that the highest levels of abandonment on a booking engine occurs on the first page that the customer views on their booking journey. In addition to your rate and availability, it’s the look and feel of the booking engine that adds to the ‘stickiness’ to keep traffic on your booking engine and make that all important conversion.
What are the key reasons for abandonment on your booking engine?
So, if we think of today’s travel booking patterns and the research customers do in advance of booking – outside of rate and availability the main reasons properties lose traffic from their booking engines are often when customers are:
- Checking reviews on your hotel
- Comparing rates and value
- Finding offers confusing
- Have trust in using your site – customers could feel they are on an unsecure site
Below are Avvio’s top strategies to deal with these challenges.
1. Book Direct Message
Ensure your book direct message is carried through to your booking engine. A lot of clients will use a book direct message and/or benefits to attract traffic to their website, so it makes perfect sense to carry this through to the booking stage to constantly reinforce the benefits of booking with you directly. It’s important to use customer-friendly language with your book direct message so that it’s clear and compelling. Price check widgets such as those provided by Triptease or HotelChamp are very useful at this stage to avoid losing a potential guest who may be tempted to abandon to refer to a comparison site.
2. Make your rates and packages compelling
Your website is your shop window, so it’s fair to say your booking engine is your checkout, and as obvious as it seems, you need to ensure that it is a compelling purchase area. Rate content and images are important, as are your room images and descriptions which need to be compelling and relevant. We always encourage clients to “sell the experience” rather than just rate, to avoid using industry lingo in rate descriptions and again to use more customer-friendly language – after all, wouldn’t you agree that ‘Dine & Delight’ sounds a lot more attractive than ‘2BB1D’?’.
We know that some of the key features of Avvio’s booking engine such as sales messaging, strike-through pricing and reinforcement messaging all increase your booking engine conversion rate and help you compete more effectively with OTAs. We always recommend you give the same consideration to dynamic packaging or upsells, as in addition to being a good source of ancillary revenue they also position you in the customers mind, reinforcing Avvio’s innovative flash sale and discount policy features are very useful for increasing demand for your rooms during quieter periods. These features allow you to create short-term promotions on the booking engine using time saving discount policies rather than having to set up new promotional rates.
3. Positive Reviews
Booking engine conversion rate is generally improved when customers have visibility to positive reviews and user generated content. We recommend to have reviews visible at the booking engine stage to reinforce the customers’ decision to book with you. Avvio can provide a review display platform on the booking engine, and also work with reputation management platforms such as ReviewPro which can plug into the booking journey, and have been proven to improve conversion.
Part 2 of this blog will be out next week.