Conversion rates and abandoned reservations have always been a challenge for hotels, more so than in most other industries.
The average hotel website converts somewhere between 1.5-2.5%, lower than other popular e-commerce industries like haircare and health & beauty, which both convert at more than 3%. Additional data shows that over 80% of travel bookings are abandoned, compared to the general average of around 70%.
The bottom line is that hotels can lose millions of dollars in revenue due to abandonment, especially when you also consider that guests may book a room before delaying payment, and then canceling altogether. This means the room was unable to be booked for the 24-48 hour period in which the guest was deliberating upon and ultimately abandoning their purchase.
With direct bookings performing strongly in the market and seemingly on track for further growth, it’s never been more important for hoteliers to boost conversion rates and reduce abandonment.
Hotel website booking volume in the green for 2023
SiteMinder’s Hotel Booking Trends shows that hotel websites sit at #3 for booking revenue in a majority of markets around the world, and #2 in a select few.
If direct bookings continue to grow, and surpass OTA bookings, it would represent a huge shift in traveler booking behavior and a meaningful opportunity for accommodation providers.
To this end, it’s important for hoteliers to ensure they’re investing in the best technology that will allow them to optimize the direct booking process and provide a personalized user experience.
Booking abandonment is an unfortunate reality
While travelers may be leaning more towards booking directly with their host, accommodation providers face a unique hurdle when it comes to keeping prospective guests engaged.
Because booking a trip is such a complex multi-step process, it can take a lot of time to complete. TripAdvisor found that 80% of travel research takes more than four weeks. Throughout this time a traveler is visiting multiple sites, and may even start and stop a booking process multiple times along the way. This means it will be very hard to ever fully eliminate booking abandonment.
When we look at the top reasons why guests flee from the check-out process before confirmation, we start to see a clearer picture of what can and can’t be effectively solved by a hotelier. These include:
- The need for more time to research or compare offers
- The need to communicate with other travelers in the group
- They are frustrated by the complexity of the process
- There is a lack of good payment options
- They encounter an error or technical issue
- There are fees that only appear when final payment is asked for
- They are being asked for too much unnecessary information
- There is nothing to convince them that this hotel is the best choice for their stay
There’s plenty here for hoteliers to focus on and improve, which can help shift the needle on conversion.
If we dig deeper into customer friction and what causes frustration, it can come from:
- Slow load times
- Limited direct communication options
- Too many personal and payment details required
- A lack of intuitive functionality
- Offers are irrelevant or generic
- Poor mobile optimization
Multi-device optimization is particularly important, given 55% of all online traffic is now via mobile yet the abandonment rate on mobile is even higher than normal, at 85%.
Even with all the potential pitfalls, direct bookings are growing. So what can your hotel do to ensure you aren’t missing out on driving up your conversions and boosting the profit of your business?
10 ways to maximize direct booking conversions and avoid abandonment woes
The good news is that there are plenty of ways smart optimization and technology can help hoteliers make significant improvements to their booking conversion rates.
Here are the 10 best tips from SiteMinder and The Hotels Network:
5 tips from SiteMinder
1. Make the booking process simple
Using a best-in-class hotel booking engine will allow your guests to enjoy a fast and intuitive reservation process on all devices, saving them time and hassle.
2. Enhance your website
Audit your web design to ensure multi-language, multi-currency, and multi-device capabilities are optimized, and that it integrates seamlessly with your hotel booking engine for a smooth and consistent direct booking experience.
3. Establish simple and secure payment processing
Using hotel-specific payment solutions will allow you to easily automate and process guest payments quickly and safely, with guests able to pay and be refunded instantly.
4. Offer freedom and flexibility
Please guests by letting them customize their booking with extras and add-ons that suit their needs, and be upfront about your cancellation policies and associated booking fees.
5. Communicate clearly
Make communication effective and easy by automating guest emails and notifications via hotel software to ensure you have a constant personalized relationship with your guests.
5 tips from The Hotels Network
6. Ensure you offer the best rate, every time
Use a price comparison widget to reassure guests that booking directly with you is the most cost-effective option and if OTAs are undercutting your rates, you can automatically display a price match offer.
7. Highlight the benefits of booking direct
Highlight the benefits of booking direct at critical points throughout the booking funnel. A/B testing is a great way to identify which perks work best.
8. Personalize your hotel website for each visitor
Using behavioral targeting, you can display hyper-relevant messages and offers for each user or user type, from last-minute bookers or mobile visitors to travelers with kids or your Instagram followers.
9. Create a sense of urgency
Flash sales, along with a countdown clock, create a powerful incentive for visitors to book now, which is particularly useful during dates with low occupancy.
Countdown Layer on the homepage
10. Grab the attention of users about to leave your website
To re-engage potential guests, display an exit intent message that includes an attractive and personalized message to redirect users to the booking engine. Consider including an email capture function with an enticing offer for those who are not yet ready to confirm their booking.
SiteMinder is the world’s leading hotel commerce platform, giving accommodation providers everything they need to succeed online. Watch a demo to see how it works.