Booking engines are everything… they can make or break your hotel or holiday park, it’s that basic (and scary).
Online buying is standard
In the 21st Century buying online is the norm for most people. It’s the way they want and expect to be able to buy from you.
Online Travel Agent (OTA) or direct – customers don’t care
You care though…
The truth – customers don’t care if they use an OTA to book with you. Why would they? The result is the same. Sometimes they’re not aware of the difference. However, you’re aware of the commission you pay to third party booking sites. Clearly, if customers book directly it’s more money to you.
Direct custom is the best custom
Where’s your brand on Booking.com? Nowhere. For a customer sent from an OTA your hotel or holiday park is…just a hotel or holiday park. They were indiscriminately searching for deals. And, because it’s third party, you don’t have their data. They’re “drift on by guests”. If they book directly, they’re already more engaged. You’re delivering your brand to them, and with their email you can keep doing so – with the potential for repeat sales in the future. It’s about added value too – on your site you can include extras like breakfast, late checkouts or a teddy on arrival. OTAs don’t offer teddies.
Make it super easy for customers
Customers don’t allow time for your online booking engine to be clunky, slow or worse – not working. The moment this happens, they go elsewhere or to an OTA. So, you need to make their lives easier with a brilliant booking engine.
Brilliant booking engines
The world is digitalised, and online systems (of all types) have come a long way since the days of dial up. Simply having an online booking engine isn’t modern, but one that’s quick, smart and a breeze to use is modern. Not only this, but, brilliant booking engines are a basic customer requirement.
See booking engine performance with Google Analytics
The most powerful way to understand how your booking engine is doing is to connect Google Analytics. This gives you an in-depth picture of your customer’s booking journey. If you connect Google Analytics, you’ll be able to see far more than the percentage of customers booking online. Here’s what it could tell you (tip of the iceberg):
- which marketing drove the initial interest
- which emails generate the most revenue
- which device customers are using to book
- where customers abandon the booking journey
This is all essential data. Without it you cannot possibly know how your website and booking engine compares to the best.
Vital revenue measures for your booking engine
The Revenue Trinity…
- revenue (no surprises)
- number of transactions
- average order value
These are ideal measures (or KPIs to get technical), because they’re simple to understand and Google Analytics shows them clearly.
Whereas, odd little percentages like a 1.26% conversion rate increase (hooray!?) can be almost meaningless to your business. What’s 1.26% in money?
Poor engine to brilliant – huge revenue increase
The proof is in the pudding….
Recently, we helped a client move booking engines and created them a new website – fully optimised to drive customer bookings. In twelve months this boosted online sales by 63%. Resulting in an increase in online revenue of £151,000 – almost tripling the previous year. It’s no understatement to say our client was delighted, but also shocked by this – in the best possible way.
Hallmarks of a brilliant booking engine
The nuts and bolts….
- helps Improve direct bookings
- gives a far better user experience
- provides simple booking steps
- gives strong, consistent branding
- seamlessly merged with your site
- secure and confident transactions
- marketing ready features (special offers etc)
- post-sale extra features
- full Google Analytics tracking
These features could help your business with three core benefits:
- more engaged, happier customers
- a deeper understanding of your business
- increases in online revenue
To deliver your revenue increases you need an independent expert, that understands hospitality, technology and marketing. Please call 01803 872999 or visit www.clock-work.co.uk.
Senior Marketing Analyst