What is the online booking process?
The online hotel booking process is how guests book and pay for a stay at your hotel. This process is made possible by your hotel’s website, open 24/7 to greet potential guests and turn their interest into confirmed stays. It should include a smooth, secure booking system that shows real-time room availability and pricing, letting guests book a room without the back-and-forth of phone calls or emails. Your hotel management software will keep everything in sync, so what guests see online is always up-to-date.
But an online booking process should be more than just a booking tool; it’s the start of a great guest experience. Once a booking is made, automated emails kick in, confirming the reservation and even suggesting add-ons like room upgrades or dining options. It’s a win-win: guests enjoy the convenience, and you get to make a strong first impression that sets the stage for a memorable stay.
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Why is an online booking process important for hotels?
The importance of an online booking process for your hotel cannot be overstated. Direct bookings are the lifeblood of your business, offering a pathway to profitability that sidesteps the commissions paid to online travel agents. The more you can funnel guests through your own website, the more you retain full control over the revenue and the guest experience.
But it’s not just about the bottom line. It’s about building a relationship with your guests from the get-go. Those who book directly are often:
- More invested in your property;
- More likely to engage with your services; and ultimately,
- More inclined to leave a glowing review.
To capture this audience, your website must offer a frictionless booking journey. Any hiccups or delays can lead to booking abandonment, leaving potential revenue on the table.
That’s where the functionality of your booking engine comes into play. A well-designed, intuitive interface can expedite the booking process, making it a breeze for guests to go from browsing to confirming their stay. This not only enhances user experience but also maximises conversions, turning your website into a powerful, efficient booking channel. So, in essence, an effective online booking process is not just a feature; it’s an essential strategy for business growth and guest satisfaction.
Advantages of implementing an online hotel booking process
From streamlining operations to enhancing the guest experience, there are many advantages to an online booking system for hotels. Here’s a closer look at why implementing this process should be a priority for any forward-thinking hotel.
Nowadays, your hotel must be as accessible as the nearest smartphone or computer. An online booking process ensures that your hotel is open for business 24/7, allowing guests from different time zones to make reservations at their convenience. This global reach can significantly expand your customer base, making your hotel a go-to choice for travellers worldwide.
Gone are the days of manual booking management. An online booking system automates the reservation process, freeing up your staff to focus on more pressing tasks like guest services and property maintenance. This efficiency not only reduces operational costs but also minimises the risk of overbooking or scheduling conflicts.
With an online booking system, everything is updated in real-time. Whether it’s room availability, special promotions, or rate adjustments, guests always have access to the most current information. This transparency builds trust and encourages direct bookings, as guests can clearly see what they’re getting at the time of reservation.
In the case of those hotels using multiple OTAs, the right booking engine should also synchronise these details across every other channel in use.
From booking patterns to guest preferences, an online booking system captures a wealth of information that can be used for targeted marketing campaigns, personalised services, and operational improvements. This data-driven approach can give you a competitive edge in an increasingly crowded market.
The moment a guest completes the booking process, they receive instant confirmation. This immediate feedback enhances the guest experience by eliminating uncertainty and building confidence in your hotel’s services. Moreover, instant confirmation emails can serve as a platform for upselling additional services, further boosting revenue.
Higher occupancy, increase in revenue
An efficient online booking system optimises room occupancy by displaying real-time availability and encouraging last-minute bookings. This maximisation of occupancy rates naturally leads to an increase in revenue, making the online booking process a vital component in your hotel’s financial success.
How to set up the best hotel online booking process
Crafting the perfect online booking experience for your hotel guests is both an art and a science. It’s about balancing user-friendly design with cutting-edge technology to create a seamless and inviting process. Here’s how you can effectively set up a world-class online 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 set up 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 linking their social media accounts directly to their booking engine.
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 online hotel 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, if a guest tries to book a room that doesn’t match their preferences, you can alert your visitors that 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 online 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. Speeding up the online hotel booking process can be easily achieved, all it takes is strong attention to detail and the right technology.
Optimise your time and increase your revenue with SiteMinder
- Unlock 24/7 revenue streams: SiteMinder’s online booking engine keeps your hotel open for business around the clock, capturing bookings from global time zones to maximise your revenue.
- Streamline operations, focus on guests: Automate the booking process and free up your staff to concentrate on delivering exceptional guest experiences, ultimately driving positive reviews and repeat business.
- Enhanced website functionality: SiteMinder optimises your website’s speed and performance, ensuring a smooth booking experience that keeps guests focused on completing their reservation, not waiting for pages to load.
Get started with SiteMinder for free or watch a demo to learn more.