Imagine you go to a store (your hotel’s website) and you want to buy a product (a reservation at your hotel). But to buy it they send you to another store (a Tour Operator). It is possible that in this other store you will find another product that catches your attention, at a better price or simply that appears in a better position.
The same happens when you don’t have a website with your own booking engine. Don’t send your customers to a potential competitor.
Advantages of the proprietary booking engine:
1. Sells rooms without exchanging commissions.
In addition to customer acquisition (and higher conversions), a booking engine on your website will allow you to sell without “giving away” so many commissions to tour operators. Match the price of your other channels by offering the customer a unique value proposition if they book directly from your website: breakfast included, welcome bottle of champagne… Make them an offer they can’t refuse!
Here you can find information on price parity.
2. Control the content and communication of your hotel.
From your website you will be able to control one hundred percent the content and communication of your hotel.
Check for prices and offers, customer benefits and conditions. Modify the content first hand and play with the pricing policy and revenue management (or yield management). Become an expert in your hotel!
3. Analyze the data provided by your website.
There is multiple tools that allow you to analyze what is happening on your website. If you have your own booking engine, you will be able to calculate the conversion rate of the users that enter your website and choose the landing pages and campaigns that work best. Who doesn’t want to see the results of a great job?
In addition, you will directly obtain the customer’s data long before he arrives at your hotel. Send him interesting information about your city, local festivals and the best restaurants. You will build customer loyalty even before they board your aircraft at !
The characteristics of a good booking engine:
1. Promotional code box.
Include a promotional code box in the booking engine of your website. In this way, you will be able to give a lot of play to your unique offers, offering the customer advantages that he will not find in any other sales channel .
2. Offers immediate customer support: live chat.
Support the user at all times. The live chat option is being implemented more and more on the websites of any type of business. It is a way to make it easier for the customer to resolve their doubts immediately, without having to call or send an email.
If they have to leave your website, they may not come back and you may lose the sale. Let them know that you speak their language and that there is always someone on the other side of the screen to assist them.
3. The booking engine must always be visible.
Your booking engine must literally chase the customer through every part of your website. The user has to to be able to book at any time, whichever section of the website he/she is visiting. When you feel ready to book, you should easily find out how to book.
To do this, include the call-to-action (the “Book Now” button) in all sections of your hotel’s website.
4. Simplifies the purchasing process.
Requests the minimum amount of data from the client. The purchasing process should be simple and fast. If you want to get more information from the client, you will ask for it when he/she arrives at the hotel! Now what interests you is to be booked directly on your website.
To err is human. If the user makes a mistake entering some data in the booking process, never make him/her fill in the form again! Show him clearly where he has made a mistake: mark the wrong section in red and send him directly to the box he needs to correct.
Your website and booking engine must be user-friendly.
5) He who waits, despairs: offers a quick response.
Any user who makes an online purchase wants to immediately obtain a proof of purchase. Offer them the option of downloading a voucher at the end of the booking process.
Also, tell them that they will receive a confirmation email to the email address they have provided. Be sure to that this mailing works instantly and remind the customer that they may receive your mail in their “junk mail” folder.
Finally, always include an email address of the hotel where will also receive the confirmations coming from your own booking engine. And don’t forget to adapt your web platform to different mobile devices. More and more bookings are being made through these media.