08 Feb TAKE A STRATEGIC APPROACH TO ATTRACTING MORE DIRECT BOOKINGS
Investing in additional technology (widgets, buttons, etc) to drive more direct bookings will help improve performance if some strategic thought is also applied. Driving traffic to a booking engine happens from multi-touchpoints on a website. Catering to individuality through customization delivers a richer shopping experience that benefits both the customer and the hotel. Each widget or button should steer visitors logically and efficiently along their chosen route to checkout. It is not simply enough to invest in the technology. To perform, it has to be made to work for you.
Take Quick Book boxes. They cater primarily for those visitors who have definite dates of stay and want to see what rooms and rates are available. All too often, Quick Book boxes link to Booking engine calendar pages that are frequently set to default dates that differ to the query dates submitted, so booking already becomes a repetitive process. A visitor should never have to repeat a step. It is much more productive to direct the query straight to those rooms and rates available for the dates in question and from there to check-out. Two clicks at least saved with a much more direct and relevant booking journey.
Tools like RealRate make this process even more effective by placing the availability calendar, with live rates and stay restrictions clearly visible, neatly on the Homepage. Visitors can be directed straight to available results and then to booking within three clicks.
A general “Book Now” button can then serve a more relevant function, catering for those visitors with flexible dates who prefer a link to the general availability calendar where they can browse.
Another widget increasingly appearing as standard on websites is a Price Teaser. These are helpful to “clinch a booking”, assuring the booker that the same rates are not available cheaper from any key OTA. The preferred position for a price teaser tends to be the Homepage, where it won’t be missed. Given the average time spent on a Homepage tends to be less than 10 seconds and the page also contains other key information, is this where it will have maximum impact or influence on purchase? Customers need the most reassurance immediately prior to purchase. Strategically, a price teaser should be clearly visible on the Booking pages where it will wield the most influence for a conversion.
Visitors who have chosen a destination but not yet a hotel, are still at the research stage when they first land on a website. They tend to visit more pages to ascertain if the hotel can provide for all their needs. These ancillary pages are the multi-touch points. A website with intuitive links will lead people logically through a variety of shopping options, geared to driving a conversion. No need to pull up every room type if that is not what the visitor has indicated they are interested in. Other room options should appear only if the original choice is not available (which they will if a hotel has not missed a trick and is set up to cross-sell its inventory).
Persuading visitors to book direct requires a degree of thought, logic and objectivity that is sympathetic to the end user. When the products and tools available are used in combination, each maximizes the other’s effectiveness, creating the maximum opportunity to secure a conversion. GlobRes advice and recommendations are offered freely as part of the support service because performance enhancement is a joint objective.More info in PDF