The Digital Revolution

News / March 1, 2014

We live in an interesting world.

Hotels build the most stunning buildings, no expense spared on bathtubs, chandeliers and an opening bash to rival a Beckham marriage, or child. It’s what hoteliers do next that continuously amazes us. Some, not all, then give up over 80% of their room stock, or inventory, to a third party travel site – so they can fill the rooms for them. Alas, there is a better way.

There’s an old fashioned notion, called knowing your customer. It is said that between 60-70% of the average hotel’s revenue segment comes from online bookings whether it be brand.com or online travel agencies. So, the customer is tech savvy, but are the hotels?

The truth is they need to be, because the consumer’s habits will not wait for a hotel marketing team to understand the space. Move at the customers pace and you’ll be in a good shape. With that said, the battle lines are drawn, the two big segments being brand.com and online travel agencies making up the lionshare of the 60-70%. So where do we go from here? Invest in brand.com because it has the lower cost of sale with online travel agency commission being in excess of 20-30% per booking.

So we saught our friends Core Optimisation, so they could share some of their tips with the savvy hotelier.

THC: Why is brand.com so important?

Core: Improving your brand.com conversion rate is often the most cost effective way to direct online revenue for your hotel. Improving your websites conversion rate will also improve the ROI from your digital marketing campaigns. It will also allow you to compete with the OTA’s for Online Business and drive more business direct.

THC: Any words of wisdom of the not so savvy?

Core: Sure, we use a 5 step process for improving website conversion rate and drive more revenue direct.

1. Start with the end in mind.  What do you want to achieve? Your goal should be easy to measure and should be core to your overall business strategy. This could be: Increase the Revenue coming through brand.com or Drive Channel Shift from the OTA’s to brand.com

2. What are you now. At what point of the process are in currenty. In order to identify areas of improvement we should next assess the current performance. For example if the goal is to increase sales you would need to know your metrics – the current conversion rate.  Assess at what point of the booking process your customer is falling off, basket abandonment for example, this is called funnel analysis. Install heatmaps on key pages of the funnel to identify where the visitor is drawn to and then assess why. Most importantly, the speed test – identify how long it takes for your key pages to load.

3. Take ownership and be creative. Once the analysis has been completed we should have a few new ideas that we would like to test. These could cover a range of areas for example

  • More Prominent Placing of your Booking Widget
  • More Prominent Calls to Action
  • Sales Orientated Messaging through the Booking Process
  • Removal of Unnecessary steps in the Booking Process
  • Improvement in Download Time.
  • Ordering Rooms and Rates differently
  • Optimising the Photography on key pages. 

4. Set Up A/B Tests. The next step is to test your possible solutions. A/B tests allow you to show 50% of your visitors the original page while the other 50% see a revised page with changes . At the end of the test you can analyse the data to determine which version had the better conversion rate. By adopting this scientific approach you will see measurable improvements in your sites conversion rate and revenue. In order to get the most out of an A/B test we should do the two things: Change one thing at a time, allowing us to pinpoint which changes make the biggest impact. And then, record your results in your Analytics Package so you can see full analysis through to Revenue.

5. Implement and Review. The final step is the implement solutions that have shown to increase conversion and revenue.  Once we have done this we can start the process again and identify new areas for improvement. The quest for conversion improvement is a continual one and if approached correctly can lead to significant improvement in your online revenue. It can also help you take business back from the OTA’s

You can visit here – Core Optimisation

Image taken from outside citizenM Bankside.

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