Is the time to take another step. Turn visits into bookings. This process depends on various factors, but can be summarized in three levels: demand, competitors and channel.
The highest level, where the hotel has less control, is that of demand, or in other words, the needs of the potential clients. At this level, it is important to be up to date with consumer habits and tendencies and try to adapt and innovate so as to maintain an attractive offer for the market. Internally, satisfaction surveys are a tool that can be used to discover which services are now obsolete and which clients feel the need for.
On the second level, we compare ourselves with our competitors in regards to quality and price. Online reputation management (ORM) as an important gauge that users use to assess the quality of accommodation, therefore it is important to manage our online reputation well. For example, at Innwise we use TrustYou, a tool that allows us to monitor everything that is being said online about a hotel, it understands the management of this area in a strategic way.
On the other hand, it is also important to monitor the competition’s rates and offers and match our own according to the proposed value.
Finally, the channel level is the phase where an attempt is made to make the maximum number of bookings from the direct channel, through our website, instead of intermediary channels (OTAs). This is where we can act. We must offer the user the best experience possible, allowing them to achieve their objective easily. We must not forget that the user’s goal is not always to book. In fact, many times they are just looking for information. Following is some recommended leverage that in my mind is the most important thing needed to increase conversion on an accommodation website.
It may seem trivial, but I have come across this problem various times. It is essential that the direct channel has room availability and rates equal or better than other channels. Ours is the most important channel and deserves exclusive attention.
We must have control over the distribution. It is what we do at Innwise with the Channel Management and Revenue Management services. Why will a client book on our website if he can get it cheaper on another channel? It is essential to create advantages for clients booking on our page, I am not just talking about discounts, but all types of extra services, special conditions, etc.
A loyal client will book directly, therefore loyalty programmes are not just important to obtain repeat bookings, but also to get clients to book through the direct channel.
Usability and content
Website structure and browsing ease are basic elements for user’s experience on our site. In a few clicks the user must be able to find the content they are looking for or achieve the objective of their visit, for example booking. Therefore, the structure must be intuitive and horizontal (all pages can be accessed with 2-3 clicks from home page), the content appropriate, the colours and fonts must make for easy reading, etc. Also, the web must be responsive to mobile devices.
To improve usability we can analyse the page metrics (visits, bounce rate, length of visit, etc.), heat maps to see where users click and we can initiate the A/B test to see which version of the page works best.
The reservation process must be easy, clean and have all the needed, reliable information. The priority is to reach a reservation with three clicks at the most. In that time the visitor must have seen the room photos, the location of the hotel on the map, a clear explanation of the cancellation terms and what is included in the reservation. It must also include the possibility of offering alternative availability if there are no places available for the required date, the reservation engine must open in the same domain and have the same or similar design to the website, etc. The conversion funnel must be analysed thoroughly, especially to see on which steps we are losing potential clients, to find the cause and act.
At Innwise we feel there is always room for improvement when increasing direct sales, and this is proved by the good results our clients have obtained with the Direct Channel service. If you would like to know more details, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org