22 Feb BEST PRACTICE WITH ONLINE BOOKING STRATEGIES EQUATES TO BEST PERFORMANCE
The first thing bookers see when they get to the room type selection on a booking engine should be a short description, so it needs to stand out. A good way to do this is with sharp bullet points that will best reflect the customer needs. Four or five points, no more. For example, Free High Speed Internet (an essential nowadays); Size and quality of beds, mattresses and pillows (King-size beds or Hypnos mattresses, etc.); Modern, luxury bathrooms with walk in or separate showers; superb views, private balconies or terraces – these are all examples of key selling points that will attract bookers, especially if upselling is a key objective. It helps bookers to better understand the differences between room types and price.
Bookers that are not quite convinced at this point can opt to “Read more” and access a detailed or long description. Essential here is not to repeat information that the booker has seen already. The long description is the “sales pitch” and should be positive, tempting and real as honesty is key to fulfilling customer expectation.
Emphasize value at every price level – specially to encourage bookers to book a more expensive room. In a more narrative style, describe a fantastic outlook; a unique characteristic or an exceptional fixture; do fixtures include HD TVs with multi-channels, separate seating areas or features such as i-pod docking stations; Nespresso machines; luxury designer décor and accessories? Any long description should heighten a booker’s sense of anticipation, confirming it with a selection of high resolution images, in support of the description.
But how does it work for rooms that don’t have such advantages? Standard room types offering more basic comforts can be made just as appealing by highlighting the positive aspects that reassure those bookers shopping on price, perhaps on a budget. For example: cleanliness, hairdryers, wardrobe space, fluffy towels, space, natural light – these are desirable characteristics too. For family rooms, emphasize points that highlight how child friendly the rooms are.
Customers today are prudent shoppers and still judge a hotel ultimately on value delivered for the money paid. This is a crucial benefit to reputation management.
To capture bookers, appeal to all the senses. Don’t miss out any opportunity to highlight the appeal of the hotel, including its location. Feature general facilities and any associated advantages to guests such as free entry to the Spa; beautiful landscaped gardens to explore; free bikes for hire; comfortable lounges with real fires – long descriptions are not just about rooms, they present a final opportunity to convince the booker to buy, there and then.
The exception to room description best practices, like the sample points raised above is with GDS descriptions. The GDS has a more specialized requirement as it comprises information that is delivered globally through an intermediate source, in a specific format that travel agents the world over can understand. It is not a description format that is suitable when selling directly to online bookers.
It is important too, to apply the same strategic line of thought to rate descriptions. An example? Additional conversions can be created by a rate presented as “Pay in Advance and Save Yourself Money” instead of “Non-Refundable”. The former has a much more positive impact as it is highlighting the advantage of the rate, not the penalty should it be cancelled. It is not just what you say, it’s how you present it that will most likely persuade the looker to be a booker.
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