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Get a room: Eight things people want when booking a hotel

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How hotel websites can improve the booking experience.

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Get a room: Eight things people want when booking a hotel

  1. 1. Get  a  room:  
 Eight  things  people  want   when  booking  a  hotel  
  2. 2. Introduc)on Booking  a  hotel  room.  No  two  journeys  are  alike.    The  average  person  visits   38  websites  searching  for  the  best  hotel,  in  the  best  loca?on,  with  the  best   room  and  of  course  at  the  best  price.    The  travel  journey  may  start  on  a   search  engine,  but  where  it  ends  depends  on  a  number  of  factors.    For   hoteliers  though,  the  ul?mate  goal  though  is  to  make  sure  this  search  ends   on  their  website.     Surveying  over  1,000  travellers,  as  well  as  filming  some  actually  carrying  out   a  booking,  we  iden?fied  the  eight  things  people  want  most  when  they  book.   We  ventured  past  the  inspira?on  phase  and  focused  on  what  happens  once   someone  has  decided  on  where  to  stay.   The  findings  are  fascina?ng.  SoGware  providers  have  adopted  all  manner  of   different  approaches,  and  below  we  iden?fy  which  sites  and  booking   engines  we  think  are  doing  it  best.  You  might  think  that  going  via  a  third   party  is  what  the  guest  wants,  but  our  research  found  that  there  is  a  desire   to  book  direct  if  possible.  In  fact,  72%  of  people  would  book  directly  with   the  hotel  if  they  could  be  sure  that  they  were  ge;ng  the  best  deal.  It’s  now   up  to  hoteliers  to  prove  the  direct  site  is  best  and  our  eight  ?ps  will  help  you   do  just  that.   So  read  on  and  find  out  what  people  want  when  they  book  a  hotel… This  white  paper  would  not  have  been  possible  without  some  special   contributors:   James  Bland  –  Director,  Hotels  &  Hospitality,  BDRC Lennert  de  Jong  –  Commercial  Director,  Ci)zenM 1 Charlie  Osmond  -­‐  Chief  Tease,  Triptease
  3. 3. 2 Photos,  photos,  photos 2 Show  me  lots  of  dates 3 The  price  isn’t  right  if   it’s  not  in  my   currency 4 Reassure  me 5 Tell  me  what  more  I   could  have 6 Shorten  the  delay  in   gra)fica)on 7 Let  me  use  my     Facebook  log  in 8 Make  it  simple,     short  and  clean 1 The  eight  things
  4. 4. Once  someone  has  decided  on  a  hotel,  they  want  booking  to  be  simple  and   speedy.  This  means  they  expect  the  process  to  give  them  what  they  want   easily.  And  what  they  want  is  to  be  able  to  find  the  ‘book’  buQon  quickly,  to   be  offered  concise  informa?on  that  helps  them  make  a  decision,  and  to  be   able  to  get  through  the  payment  in  as  few  clicks  as  possible.   1.  Make  it  simple,  short  and  clean I'm  very  busy  and  I  need  clear  concise  informaDon,     I  don't  want  to  spend  ten  hours  booking  my  hotel. Colour,  size  and  loca?on  can  all  be  used  make  the  ‘book’  buQon  stand  out.   The  trick  is  making  it  as  obvious  as  possible  while  staying  on  brand  and   consistent  with  the  look  and  feel  of  your  website.  Once  a  guest  is  in  the   booking  process,  there’s  no  need  to  wax  lyrical  about  a  room.  Our  bookers   liked  bullet  points,  which  are  used  by  the  BeBeQer  booking  engine  and   Starwood  Hotels  ,or  the  click  to  expand  for  addi?onal  informa?on  format   used  by  Availpro.     Keeping  things  short  and  punchy  also  means  details  of  mul?ple  rooms  can   be  viewed  on  one  page,  helping  to  keep  the  click  count  down.  As  a  general   rule  of  thumb,  avoid  cluQer  –  too  many  words,  ?ny  photos  or  informa?on   hidden  behind  clicks  which  open  new  tabs,  all  make  people  feel  like  they’re   having  to  work  too  hard  to  get  what  they  want.  And  if  people  aren’t  geXng   what  they  want  they  will  move  on.  94%  of  people  have  abandoned  a   booking  online  recently  largely  because  of  the  website  they’re  using.     3 For  them,  either  the  process  was  too  long  or  complicated  or  there  were   technical  or  payment  issues.   Doing  this  well: Push  the  buIon  -­‐  Big  buWons  encourage  guests  to  the  next  step
  5. 5. Photos  really  do  say  a  thousand  words.  Many  of  our  bookers  found  too   much  text  overwhelming  and  off-­‐puXng.    Photos  should  be  a  hotelier’s  best   friend  and  ‘show  don’t  tell’  should  be  the  general  rule.  70%  of  people  told  us   they  rely  on  photos  to  learn  about  a  hotel,  and  once  in  the  booking  process   pictures  really  help  them  understand  the  room  and  get  excited  about  staying   in  it.    Pop-­‐up  galleries,  as  used  by  Avvio  and  Availpro,  are  a  good  way  of   displaying  mul?ple  photos  (and  we’ll  say  it  again,  more  really  is  more  when  it   comes  to  photos). 2.  Photos,  photos,  photos It’s  easier  to  absorb  a  picture  than  read  four  paragraphs   of  words…  I  think  a  picture  paints  a  thousand  words. Larger  hotel  brands  are  turning  to  social  media.    Starwood’s  website  for  W   Hotels  has  a  curated  gallery  of  guests’  photos  from  Instagram.  These  photos   provide  candid,  true-­‐to-­‐life  impressions  of  the  experience  a  guest  can   expect,  with  the  added  bonus  of  Instagram’s  flaQering  filters.  Virtual  tours   are  also  a  good  op?on.  Google  Business  View,  which  provides  fully   interac?ve  virtual  tours  of  business  interiors,  claimed  that  restaurants  using   its  services  during  NYC  Restaurant  Week  had  a  30%  higher  click  through  to   bookings  compared  to  those  that  did  not.    All  said,  it’s  important  hoteliers   inves?gate  new  ways  of  bringing  proper?es  to  life  online. Doing  this  well: 4 Snap  happy  -­‐  Guests  rely  heavily  on  hotels  to  learn  about  a  hotel
  6. 6. Transparency  is  a  key  factor  in  building  beQer  rela?onships  with  guests.  An   excellent  way  to  demonstrate  this  is  to  provide  guests  with  a  clear  view  on   all  the  informa?on  they  need  to  accurately  compare  choices  when  booking.     Our  bookers  par?cularly  valued  being  shown  availability  results  in  a  table   format  so  they  could  see  the  prices  of  rooms  and  dates  either  side  of  their   search.  In  our  survey,  71%  of  people  agreed  that  being  shown  prices  on   dates  either  side  of  the  ones  they’ve  selected  is  useful  to  them. 3.  Show  me  lots  of  dates When  it's  in  a  big  table,  where  you've  just  got  prices   and  rooms  against  dates,  that's  really  clear  and  easy   to  use…  it's  more  easy  to  compare."  “I  love  this,  if  I   want  [I  can]  shiT  my  stay  by  a  day  and  save  20  bucks This  transparency  gives  the  guest  a  feeling  of  control  and  builds  the  idea   that  you  as  a  hotelier  are  on  their  side  and  have  their  best  interests  at  heart.   Before  showing  prices,  make  it  easy  to  select  dates  in  the  first  place  -­‐  our   bookers  some?mes  ?ed  themselves  in  knots. 5 No  maQer  how  much  they  like  that  clicky  calendar,  people  don’t  really  want   to  go  through  it  again. This  one’s  got  the  clicky  calendar  which  I  like…   clicking  is  so  much  beIer.  There’s  so  much  potenDal   for  typing  it  in  wrong. Doing  this  well: Calendars  with  drop  downs  for  month  (as  used  by  RegaQa)  or  a  grid  format   (Simple  Booking),  were  well-­‐received  as  they  cut  down  the  number  of  clicks   a  consumer  has  to  make.    Simply  making  the  check-­‐out  date  auto-­‐complete   aGer  selec?ng  a  check-­‐in  date  can  save  so  much  ?me  and  should  be  a   standard  experience.   First  dates  -­‐  Clicking  through  dates  helps  making  a  decision  easier  
  7. 7. Plenty  of  websites  use  the  loca?on  of  the  visitor  to  tailor  content.  It  may   seem  obvious,  but  some  of  the  sites  we  tested  don’t  show  prices  in  the  right   currency  –  53%  of  people  told  us  that  they  are  frustrated  by  being  shown   prices  in  currencies  other  than  their  own. 4.  The  price  isn’t  right  if  it’s  not  in  my  currency Our  bookers  found  themselves  confused  by  prices  that  switched  currency   from  one  page  to  the  next,  or  when  they  were  unable  to  locate  a  buQon  to   switch  to  the  currency  they  wanted.  On  one  site  we  tested  the  currency   selector  made  finding  the  Bri?sh  Pound  quite  a  bit  more  difficult  than  was   necessary  –  the  currency  was  named  the  ‘UK  Pound’  but  posi?oned   alphabe?cally  between  currencies  star?ng  with  F  and  H  (we  assume  this   was  a  reflec?on  of  ‘GBP’,  as  an  alternate  name  for  the  currency).  Think   about  the  ordering  of  informa?on  in  dropdown  menus  to  make  things  as   simple  as  possible  for  your  consumers.     The  perfect  solu?on  is  to  use  autoloca?on  soGware  so  that  any  poten?al   guest  is  shown  the  website  in  their  own  language  and  with  prices  in  their   own  currency.  However,  where  this  is  not  possible,  be  sure  to  have  a  clear   and  simple  currency  selector  which  is  easy  to  find  on  the  page.    When  it   comes  to  mobile,  where  autoloca?on  is  more  easily  possible  with  GPS   tracking,  this  technology  is  even  more  valuable  as  it  removes  a  poten?ally   fiddly  step  from  the  process.   6 Doing  this  well: Money,  money,  money  -­‐  Guests  want  ease  when  looking  for  their  currency
  8. 8. Reassurance  is  something  OTAs  focus  heavily  on.    The  ‘book’  buQon  will   read  ‘show  deals’,  percentage  discounts  are  referenced  repeatedly  and  our   bookers  were  shown  up  to  five  messages  reassuring  them  that  they  were   geXng  the  best  price.  Some  booking  engines  do  a  great  job  with  this  –   WebHotelier,  Simple  Booking  and  RegaQa  both  show  before  and  aGer   discount  prices  and  use  colour  and  design  to  draw  the  consumer’s  aQen?on. 5.  Reassure  me It's  telling  me  how  much  I'm  saving,     which  is  good  to  know. Lennert  de  Jong  of  Ci?zen  M  says  “[Hoteliers  tell  me  their]  website  is  like  a   bou?que,  this  is  where  you  find  the  best  products…  well  that  might  be  true…   but  you  need  to  have  the  best  deal  available.”   Ci?zen  M  has  a  very  interes?ng  approach  to  this;  they  show  the  prices  of   alternate  hotels,  complete  with  links  for  the  guest  to  book  there  if  they  wish   to.  Lennert  says  that  this  is  key  to  their  strategy  of  puXng  the  guest  first.   “We  do  this  by  offering  transparency…  by  showing  what  other  [nearby]   hotels  are  charging.  It’s  something  that  we  have  done  for  some  ?me…  that’s   really  when  you  help  the  guest  to  posi?on  the  brand  and  the  concept,  and   we  are  in  charge  there  not  Booking.com,  not  Expedia,  not  Google,  we  are  in   charge  to  let  the  guest  know  on  our  page,  these  the  hotels  we  compete   with,  this  is  our  price,  here  is  the  link  if  you  want  to  book  elsewhere.”   7 Your  bouDque  -­‐  Transparency  shows  confidence  and  encourages  booking Doing  this  well:
  9. 9. Personalisa?on  is  a  growing  trend  and  68%  of  people  said  it  is  useful  when   they  are  shown  what  upgrades  they  can  pay  for  during  the  booking   process.  Some  bookers  liked  sites  which  gave  them  op?ons  for  add-­‐ons,   such  as  massages  or  airport  transfers  but  it’s  not  for  everyone.  Make  sure   lists  are  short  and  easy  to  skip  if  necessary. 6.  Tell  me  what  more  I  could  have There  are  two  things  to  consider  when  offering  upgrades  and  add-­‐ons.  First,   make  the  value  of  what  they’re  paying  for  clear  to  the  guest.  For  example,   think  carefully  before  making  early  check-­‐in  or  late  check-­‐out  a  paid-­‐for   service.  Our  bookers  told  us  that  they  would  expect  this  free  of  charge,  or  to   at  least  be  offered  bag  storage  if  there  addi?onal  ?me  in  the  room  was  not   possible.  Slapping  prices  on  these  services  at  this  stage  can  make  the  hotel   seem  a  liQle  mercenary.  Second,  make  sure  any  upgrades  or  add-­‐ons  are   relevant  and  affordable  -­‐  one  of  our  bookers  was  shown  a  $2,100  upgrade   on  a  $400  room!   Our  bookers  also  rapidly  got  frustrated  when  they  didn’t  know  what  was   included  in  a  certain  package.  OGen  this  was  because  the  ?tle  of  the   package  wasn’t  that  informa?ve  and  details  were  hard  to  find. 8 Doing  this  well: Upgrade  me  -­‐  Guests  like  to  get  excited  before  they’ve  finished  booking
  10. 10. 7.  Shorten  the  delay  in  gra)fica)on I  like  the  fact  that  it  keeps  the  format  of  the  original   website,  the  banner  is  the  same  as  the  page  before."   “It  felt  sophisDcated,  it  does  what  it  needs  to  do  in  a   classy  way. Becoming  trusted  starts  with  ensuring  that  people  have  a  strong  sense  of   your  brand.  In  some  instances  the  change  between  a  hotel’s  website  and   the  booking  engine  can  be  quite  pronounced  –  our  bookers  gave  posi?ve   feedback  for  booking  engines  that  carried  through  elements  of  the  brand,   either  through  design  or  photos.  It  helped  keep  the  levels  of  energy  and   an?cipa?on  high  throughout  the  booking  process.   9 With  the  introduc?on  of  Booking  Suite  and  Synxis’  InstaSite  and  Booking   Engine  in  context  suite,  the  reward  for  consistency  is  becoming  clear.   Although  we  didn’t  analyse  them  in  any  depth,  booking  confirma?on  e-­‐mails   can  provide  a  good  opportunity  to  improve  the  direct  rela?onship. A  confirma?on  email  can  suggest  following  the  hotel  on  Facebook  or   Instagram,  and  these  channels  can  be  used  to  communicate  far  more  than   just  special  offers.  Informa?on  about  local  events  builds  the  rela?onship  and   your  posi?on  as  a  trusted  guide.  For  example,  W  Hotels  operate  Instagram   profiles  for  each  of  their  hotels  with  content  on  events,  special  offers  and   sugges?ons  for  ac?vi?es. James  Bland  of  BDRC  suggests  that  there  is  nothing  wrong  with  asking   guests  a  few  ques?ons  about  themselves  first  to  help  when  offering  content   that  might  be  useful.   Doing  this  well: Give  me  more  -­‐  Payment  doesn’t  spell  the  end.  Content  gets  guests  even  more  excited
  11. 11. Social  login  is  a  core  facet  of  Airbnb.    It  both  speeds  up  the  process  of   logging-­‐in  and  provides  them  with  powerful  social  data.  Booking.com  have   also  started  provided  a  Facebook  login  op?on.    26%  of  people  told  us  they   would  use  a  Facebook  log  in  if  it  was  available  on  a  hotel  booking  site  and  it   comes  as  no  surprise  that  this  was  higher  among  younger  age  groups. 8.  Let  me  use  my  Facebook  log  in If  there  was  an  opDon  to  log  in  on  Facebook  I   probably  would,  I  can’t  be  bothered  to  remember  a   new  password  every  Dme. Social  login  will  only  expand  as  people  look  for  an  easier  way  to  manage   their  online  lives.  For  hoteliers  the  value  lies  in  capturing  accurate  and  useful   social  data,  and  social  sign  for  loyalty  schemes  is  a  temp?ng  way  to  en?ce   consumers  to  part  with  it.  As  our  youngest  booker  said,  this  makes  her  life   just  that  liQle  bit  easier. 11 Doing  this  well: Plugging  in  a  social  API  makes  the  idea  of  logged  in  rates  even  more  en?cing   for  hoteliers  in  the  drive  to  garner  more  direct  bookings.  Early  adop?on  will   provide  considerable  compe??ve  advantage  in  the  years  to  come  as   Facebook  becomes  the  portal  to  the  internet  for  millions. Like  -­‐  Social  log-­‐in  saves  )me  and  provides  valuable  data  to  hotels

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