Your boutique hotel’s website should be your most profitable channel and for maximum profit it should be the channel which sees the highest level of bookings.
A critical factor in increasing your website conversion rate is having a well-optimised and feature-rich hotel booking engine
on your website.
What is a booking engine?
An online hotel booking engine is a software application through which guests can search, book and if necessary, pay for online reservations. It provides an easy path for guests to check room availability and rates and perform the booking themselves rather than contacting the hotel or other booking platform.
It also delivers real-time confirmed reservations to hoteliers, storing the bookings and guest data safely in one place. When setup correctly and synced with any other booking channels, it ensures that the hotel can’t be overbooked as it displays available rooms in real-time.
There are a broad range of different booking engines out there and each of them have their own benefits and drawbacks.
In this post, our aim is to show you the features you should look for in an Internet booking engine (IBE) which will drive revenue and profit for your high-end hotel.
• An excellent booking experience
Affluent guests are often time-poor. For them it's essential that they find the hotel IBE easy to use by design. A potential guest who visits a hotel website
is quickly scanning for important details like room descriptions, rates, and amenities.
Once they decide to book it has to be as quick and painless as possible, particularly on mobile. In 2020 over 60% of hotel bookings were made on mobile devices and this number is increasing.
The less steps, the better!
Make sure your online hotel booking engine has a straightforward process with the minimum number of steps required for someone to book a room.
Start with an open booking panel on your homepage and optimise the journey from there with customer-centric design.
For example, while upsells such as champagne in the room are important, don’t add them as separate step. Rather show them as an option which the customer can click on if required.
If you're an international hotel, your guests will appreciate the opportunity to complete the booking process in their native language.
Smart front-end design and efficient coding are two important factors for a fast OBE. Speed leads to a positive user experience and to an increase in your conversion rate and revenue.
• Fully customisable
Your IBE should be not only visually engaging but also fully customisable so it's coherent with your hotel’s brand identity.
The design should be simple and elegant, yet also functional with seven days calendars, strikethroughs on unavailable days, appropriate room photos for each room type and clear messaging.
The mobile design is particularly important as this is such a critical booking platform.
• Focus on total booking revenue
The main goal of your IBE should be driving direct bookings and maximising total booking revenue.
When browsers click on a promotional offer it should bring them directly to that offer on the booking engine.
Recognise previous bookers and provide a welcome message and ask if they would like the same options as they chose in their last reservation.
Offer the option to join your loyalty program for an instant discount or value add.
• Easy tracking and reporting
It's essential that you track and analyse your direct bookings so you can continually optimise the IBE.
You need to know what works for bookers and more importantly what doesn’t.
A/B testing of different options is highly recommended – even a small increase in conversion will greatly boost revenue when it is scaled to all your direct bookers.
Your IBE must have enhanced tracking options to provide key metrics.
If you want to understand how your booking engine is affecting your website traffic, conversion rates and ROI via desktop and mobile, ensure it is integrated with your Google analytics. Analyse and act on daily, weekly and monthly reports.
The more your guests get to know you and appreciate your luxury offering, the more likely they are to become loyal guests. Retention of existing clients is the key to future growth.
Building a strong relationship with your guests and delivering a simple, trustworthy IBE for them is an essential part of any direct booking strategy.
The better the experience it delivers, the more likely they are to book again.
If you have a hotel direct booking strategy, a great booking engine should be the primary consideration for you.