Some month ago I posted about the importance of a booking engine. At the time it was based on the fact that we (WIHP) had analysed the average time spent on a booking engine often exceeded the time spent on the website.
And that fact hold. Over 50% of the time spent (and pages viewed) by clients is on the booking engine.
This means booking engine’s better be easy to navigate and fast to close the sale. The design factor is key, anything complicated and your chances of loosing the sale multiply per second.
We recently did the test, taking the former booking engine from a hotel which wasn’t much of a design feat and then putting on a properly designed version of Synxis on the same hotel. Almost one for one the conversion rate increased on average about 25% increase.
Why? because those customers that you would previously have lost to booking.com or expedia suddenly find the booking process so much easier that they decide to book with you.
So if you think any booking engine will do the trick… take another look at that idea. You need something well designed, smooth, and quick. If you have to pay a little more for the booking engine, it wont matter you will make that money up with increased direct sales.
Could iTunes becomes the new Paypal? In mobile shopping, it is quite hard to imagine someone pulling out their credit card in the metro and entering it on their mobile to complete the purchase of their hotel room. Not too many people would feel comfortable with that.
But what about all those people that have an iPhone who already have an iTunes account. All the booking engine would need to do is connect to iTunes, the user puts in his password and the purchase it done.
I can’t imagine that our Apple friends haven’t already started planning to change iTunes into “Apple Financial Services” or something like that and become a direct competitor to Paypal. If they do it would be that much easier for us to sell our hotel inventories to mobile users.
And all those potential guests that are wasting their time waiting for a bus or the metro could spend it searching for and booking their hotel rooms.
Maybe that’s all part of iTravel.
Your Booking Engine is more important than you think. In fact upward of 60% of the navigation by the customers happens on the booking engine.
If you booking engine can show the rooms, show them well, show the rates, have a streamlined check-out process you will increase conversions.
Complicated navigation, small or bad images, overwhelming check-out process hurt the booking process so much you are loosing sales.
You’ll be astonished how “facts and figures” the current bookers are. They don’t want the bling bling websites, they want the straight dope and an easy choice system.
Currently Google Places displays rates in almost all countries, this has been available in the US as a beta for a while. But only recently did it start showing up in Europe. What does this mean for hotels?
There is a good and a bad, the good, a better qualifications filter for people visiting the website. What I mean is that a person that visits a website will know even before entering the website if this is in his budget. So it may reduce the visits to some degree, but on the other hand it bring visitors that are ready to buy. This is not a small point, even though it may hurt our ego to see the visits go down.
The bad is that currently it’s only OTA (Online Travel Agents) prices which means… big commissions to the OTAs and little to no profit for the hotels.
I have it from some sources that a booking engine called Bookassist, sent out an email to their customers saying they are adding the “official website prices” into the places page. If that is correct, that’s great news.
Since hotels are normally cheaper through their own site, this is to the hotel’s advantage (and guests).
I’ve looked around in Google Forums to try and find more information on this but haven’t seen anything yet. If you have information on how to connect one’s booking engine to Google Places please post a link in the comments.
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