By Brett Thoreson, co-founder and CEO of CartStack/RezRecover
In the world of the hotel industry, where the rate of travelers abandoning their reservations can be significant, hoteliers are constantly searching for ways to optimize their establishments and increase conversions. The ultimate goal is to engage guests during their initial visit, whether it’s through signing up for newsletters, receiving personalized notifications, or making direct bookings.
Despite continuous improvements to their websites and booking processes, many hotels still struggle to retain a significant portion of their guests. This challenge seems to persist year after year. The main reason behind this ongoing issue is the failure to replicate the diverse expectations, preferences, and booking behaviors that guests have in physical hotels within the digital realm.
As a result, we have conducted an analysis of the most common types of online guests that your hotel attracts and has attracted over time and strategies on how to turn them into repeat direct bookers.
This category represents the majority of online bookers. Research shows guests in mature online hotel markets are usually savvy bargain hunters. Price is the most influential factor in their booking decisions, followed closely by value-added services and discounts. They are willing to compare prices on different websites to find the best deal. About 20% of these guests use price comparison websites.
Challenges in converting them: The challenge lies in the fact that there are thousands of other hotels worldwide offering attractive rates, sometimes even better than yours. As soon as they find a better deal on another site, these guests may abandon your hotel’s booking process. Additionally, many of these guests encounter misleading websites or unauthorized booking platforms that charge unfair fees, leading to booking abandonment.
How to convert them: The key is to identify price-sensitive guests by tracking their behavior on your hotel’s website. Pay attention to their actions after adding a room to their booking. If they leave your site and return to search for better rates, take the initiative to offer them a competitive rate before they even leave for the first time. Utilize reliable booking platforms and actively monitor unauthorized websites to prevent deceptive bookings. Regularly update your rates and offer exclusive deals on your hotel’s booking platform.
These guests prioritize the overall hotel experience rather than the room rates or offers. They desire a personalized and seamless encounter where they feel valued as guests. According to industry research, a significant percentage of guests are willing to pay more for an exceptional on-site experience.
Challenges in converting them: Even the slightest inconvenience or friction during the booking process can deter these guests from completing a reservation. Factors such as slow website loading, difficulties in finding relevant information about hotel amenities, and a complicated booking form negatively impact their booking experience. A considerable number of online guests abandon their bookings if the process is too long or complex.
How to convert them: Optimize the speed and user-friendliness of your hotel’s website on both desktop and mobile devices. Ensure a mobile-responsive booking experience, as a majority of travelers rely on their phones to make reservations. Improve search functionality to help guests find specific room types, amenities, and special offers. Simplify the booking process by minimizing unnecessary steps, offering a guest checkout option, and providing clear instructions and support throughout the process.
These guests have an immediate need to make a reservation and are quick to book with the first hotel that offers a satisfactory experience. They often discover hotels through search engines and prioritize speed in completing their booking.
Challenges in converting them: If they can’t easily find availability or encounter additional steps like creating an account or entering excessive details during the booking process, they may abandon the reservation altogether.
How to convert them: Provide a frictionless booking experience by optimizing the booking process, prominently displaying availability and rates, offering multiple payment options, and providing personalized offers based on their on-site behavior. Build trust by ensuring them of a seamless check-in process
Always New Enthusiasts
These guests are always on the lookout for the newest and most stylish rooms in any hotel category. They are willing to switch hotels to stay up-to-date and book with the first hotel that offers the desired room and a streamlined booking process.
Challenges in converting them: Their primary focus is on finding the latest and most attractive rooms in the market, and they will quickly move on if they can’t find them or easily make a reservation.
How to convert them: Be the first to showcase and promote your hotel’s newest and most stylish rooms. Highlight the unique features and design elements through various channels such as social media, advertisements, emails, and on-site notifications. Offer a special discount or incentive for guests booking these exclusive rooms to attract their attention and prompt immediate reservations.
These guests conduct extensive research and comparison before making a booking, especially for significant stays. They rely on online platforms and reviews to gather information and want to avoid any mistakes or disappointments.
Challenges in converting them: Comparison websites and a wide range of options can overwhelm these guests, making it challenging for them to make a final decision or remain focused on your hotel.
How to convert them: Assist them in their research process by providing comprehensive information about your hotel’s amenities, room types, services, and nearby attractions. Offer detailed descriptions, high-quality images, and virtual tours to give them a clear understanding of what your hotel offers. Showcase positive guest reviews and ratings to build trust and credibility. Provide a live chat or dedicated customer support to address any specific questions or concerns they may have during the booking process.
Each type of guest has distinct characteristics, but they all share the desire to find the best rooms at the best prices while dealing with various distractions. To reduce distractions, eliminate elements that may divert their attention from completing the booking, such as competitor advertisements, unrelated content, or complicated navigation. Offer a seamless online booking experience and engage with guests in a timely manner to encourage conversions.
By understanding the specific needs and preferences of these different types of online guests, your hotel can tailor its online presence and booking process to effectively convert them into confirmed reservations. Continuously analyze guest behavior, monitor industry trends, and adapt your hotel’s online strategies accordingly to stay competitive and attract a diverse range of guests to your establishment.
As you can imagine, this is particularly useful when a traveler decides not to proceed with a booking, known as booking abandonment. Hospitality brands face a significant challenge with booking abandonment, with hotel websites experiencing an abandonment rate of 84.63%, according to research. However, there is a solution to this problem. By delivering the right message to the right traveler at the right time, hotels can implement a more effective marketing and re-marketing strategy that strengthens their conversion funnel and generates more bookings.
With the ability to gather real-time data such as location, potential booking dates, gender, travel destination, and booking type, hotels can easily segment their content marketing efforts to be more personalized and tailored. A reservation recovery solution uses the data from potential guests who visited the booking engine before abandoning and then incorporates these details dynamically into email messages to enhance personalization. Using data, including room images, booking totals, arrival and departure dates, number of nights, and guests, a reservation recovery platform automatically displays conditional content blocks based on specific conditions. These conditional content blocks, such as special upgrades or discounts based on the abandoned room type, help hotels increase the relevance and personalization of their emails while encouraging a booking decision while the lead is still warm.
By employing tools that utilize guest data in a respectful and customized manner, hotels can smoothly transition into a future without cookies while prioritizing personalization. Most importantly, they can achieve higher conversion rates, increased revenue, and happier guests of all types.