Maybe you’re on the lookout for a new hotel booking engine system, or perhaps you’re seeking to overhaul the one you already have to better suit your needs and ensure maximum conversions.
There are so many different types of hardware and software on the market to choose from, but how can you be sure you select the right one for your hotel? Each one will promise that it has what you need, so here are our top five features to seek out in order to narrow them down.
1. Compatibility with mobile devices This might have been optional just a few years ago, but with mobile internet traffic now having overtaken desktop for the first time, it certainly isn’t any longer. Your hotel website and pages for booking must be optimised for smartphones and tablets if you are to avoid losing business. There’s no point in having a great website that’s just going to cause people to bounce off as soon as they hit the booking engine and have a bad experience with pages uploading – it’s a waste of everyone’s time.
2. Secure payment Booking a holiday or even just a night’s stay in a hotel often involves parting with quite a lot of money, so you want to reassure your would-be guests at every stage of the booking process that you’re a legitimate business and aren’t going to rip them off. If they reach the online booking engine and there’s no sign of secure payment symbols or it looks sparse and unbranded, there’s every chance they’ll abandon the transaction and go straight to the competition. Also, don’t forget that you should offer a range of secure payment options with the option to book in a range of currencies, as your customers could come from all over the world and you don’t want to put them off by not catering for them.
3. Easy to useIt has long been known that lengthy online forms that seem to require your life story before they will let you complete a transaction are off-putting, so don’t make this mistake with your hotel’s booking engine. Guests should only have to make three or four clicks to a handful of pages to complete their booking – and anything more complex is likely to hit your conversion rate hard. Forget questions like ‘how did you hear about us’ and ‘recommend a friend’ for now and just collect necessary information like travel dates, number of guests and room requirements. Also, ensure the pages are uncluttered, easy to read and can be followed through to the end seamlessly.
4. Automatic emailsThe booking of a room isn’t the end of your chain of communication with a guest, so it’s essential for your booking engine to have automatic email facilities. This ensures the customer gets a confirmation of their reservation straight away for a start, but it also means you can reach them with special offers, options for upsells and more – in a not-to-salesy way, of course. Once people have stayed with you, your hotel will be able to continue to use their information and hopefully tempt them back as a repeat guest, which is much cheaper in the long run than attracting new business.
5. Connectivity with metasearch options Finally, your booking engine should always be linked up with other channels that allow would-be guests to see what rooms you have available at that particular moment and what the rates are. This connectivity to metasearch means people will be able to see your brand via multiple channels, but should still come directly to your website to book with you.
Remember that your hotel booking engine should be driving as much traffic as possible to your website, but that it should also be turning these lookers into booking guests.