Direct bookings at your hotel are vital to ensure your business remains profitable. Although you do have to rely on online travel agents, the more commission-free bookings you can drive through your website the better.
Not only will it save you money but a guest who books direct is going to be more receptive to your property and hopefully give you a better review at the end of their stay.
There are many ways you can attract travellers to your site but once they’re on your page you want their booking process to be as quick and simple as possible. A slow booking experience will more than likely result in an abandoned booking.
By paying close attention to the functionality of your website and your booking engine you can create a faster online experience for your guests and maximise conversions.
The 7 best ways you can speed up the direct booking process:
1. Remove sources of customer friction
Customer friction is any problem that adversely affects a guests experience. This can happen at any point throughout their journey – including the booking phase when they go online. Something like a click-to-call button will help them solve any problems they run into and is very easy to install. To find out more on how to remove customer friction, check out this blog post.
2. Implement a user-friendly booking engine
The best booking engine will keep the guest onsite and allow them to complete their booking in a few clicks or touches. For example, SiteMinder’s booking engine ensures you are setup for a fully-customisable two-step process that makes things uncomplicated for the guest.
3. Enable social media booking
Social media is an ever-increasing factor for guests finding and booking hotel accommodation online. Hotels can make booking easier for travellers by having a booking engine that can integrate with Facebook. Coupled with a mobile-friendly interface, your potential guests won’t be restricted when booking a stay at your hotel.
4. Create a smart and intuitive booking process
Giving your guests accurate and helpful information will go a long way to smoothing out their booking process. For example, with an online booking engine like SiteMinder’s, if a guest tries to book a room that doesn’t match their preferences, you can alert your visitors they may want to look at other options. This way, guests are constantly guided through the booking journey.
5. Save offers and extras for after confirmation
Almost 50% of last-minute bookings are made via smartphone so guests want to complete their reservation as quickly as possible. This means you shouldn’t place too many barriers between them and their ability to navigate to the final price. If you wish to offer extras or promotions, one option is to do so in a confirmation email when the guest is more likely to be receptive to communication.
6. Display clear calls-to-action
When visitors see your homepage your ultimate goal is for them to make a booking. To this end, your homepage should be simple with a call-to-action clearly visible and easy to access. Prominently display your availability and ‘Book Now’ button so guests don’t get confused and click away. The last thing you want is a guest who doesn’t book simply because they got lost on your website.
7. Optimise website functionality
To speed up the booking process, speeding up your hotel website itself will aid this. Many websites are slowed down by issues with ‘http’ requests, image sizes, caching, plugins etc. Ironing out these kinks will make your web pages load quicker and keep your guest focused on making a booking. For more information on how to improve website load time, read this helpful article.
Speeding up the online direct booking process can be easily achieved by hotels, all it takes is strong attention to detail and the right technology.