More direct bookings, fewer commission payments and overall lower selling costs - as a hotelier, these goals are probably high up on your list. Yet how can you measure whether or not you are on track to achieve these goals?
The conversion rate (KR) of your website and booking engine is an important indicator of this.
In a word, the higher it is, the more effective your website will work for you.
But what is a “good” conversion rate for a hotel, and what can you do to increase it?
Maria Perez, Marco Baurdoux and Elisha Schoppig get to the bottom of these and other questions related to conversion rates in this livestream.
Here you will find a summary of the most important points as well as practical suggestions that will help boost your CR.
What is a conversion rate?
The conversion rate reflects how effective your website, or Internet Booking Engine (IBE), is at converting its visitors into paying guests.
To determine the CR, divide the number of direct bookings by website or IBE visitors. It is essential that both of these figures are measured over the same time period, e.g. one month or one quarter.
For example: Over a month period, the Waldsee Hotel website records 1,000 visitors. Within the same time frame, 35 direct bookings are received. Using the aforementioned formula, a CR of 3.5% is calculated for the Waldsee Hotel website.
How high should a “good” conversion rate be?
The higher your CR turns out to be, the better, but what is really considered to be a “good” rate? It is difficult to say that as a general rule.
According to 80 Days, the average hotel website CR lies at around 2%. Booking Engines achieve a good 3.5 % on average. However, the data also shows that this is a very rough benchmark. Conversion rates vary significantly depending on the hotel and market. Whether your hotel is affiliated with a chain, or the type of IBE also affects the CR figure.
Having a look at these numbers will help you analyze your advertising costs. If you can find out how many direct bookings come from your website, you can also calculate acquisition costs per guest. This should include costs for the IBE, your website, any ads placed, as well as other marketing investments.
The first step to a higher conversion rate: Collect and analyze data
To optimise your KR, you’re going to need website data. It is essential that you collect, evaluate and understand the data yourself. Google Analytics is an excellent tool for this purpose. You can create your account and connect it to your website and booking engine. Once done, the system collects your website data and processes it in a visual way.
You will now be able to easily get answers to questions such as:
How many hits does your website have?
How long do visitors stay on your website and its individual sub-pages?
How are visitors clicking through the website?
Where do they get stuck or bounce off?
This will give you important information about the way visitors use your website and where optimisation is needed the most.
Let's come back to the Waldsee Hotel from our previous example. This hotel’s website has a global CR of 5%. This in itself is already interesting, but a more detailed analysis will provide even more insight.
Looking more closely, we find that of the 1,000 visitors, 650 end up on the IBE. With the 35 direct bookings, this means that the IBE achieves a CR of 5.3%.
Diving deeper, we can even see how many visitors are accessing the website via a desktop or via a mobile device (e.g. smartphone, tablet). A CR can also be determined for each case; if there are major differences between desktop and mobile devices, you will be able to see where more optimisation is needed. Adobe data reveals how both channels are extremely important. The data shows that, presently, 52% of travel searches and 21% of buying decisions are made via mobile devices.
Practical tips to optimise your conversion rate
If you’re looking for inspiration on how to streamline your booking process, check out the OTAs. For years, they have continually improved their structure and content arrangement in order to provide users with the ideal booking experience. This is also what your goal should be; the easier and faster the process, the more guests complete it.
Do you know how many clicks it takes to make a direct booking on your website? If not, go ahead and try it out yourself. Walk through all the steps from the perspective of your website visitors, and be critical. If, at any moment, you find yourself having issues using your website, your guests will surely be feeling the same. You’ll then need to think about how to fix this problem.
If you want to further increase your CR, you can also use the following tips..
• Engaging images: The images of your hotel must be illuminated well and should show your establishment at its best in order to make website visitors want to stay at your hotel. Investing in a professional photoshoot pays off.
• Quick, interesting descriptions: Provide relevant information for your hotel, your rooms and services - but don't end up writing too much prose!
• Language and currency: Make it easier for international guests by offering different language and currency options within the IBE.
• Easy-to-understand names for your rooms and suites: Although fancy titles can be read cleverly on your website, they can also end up causing confusion. If guests can't understand what is being offered to them, they won't end up making a booking.
• Improved website conditions: Reward your direct booking customers with better rates, conditions or additional services, such as breakfast included or free cancellation.
• Ask your business partners for advice: Your technology provider will be happy to share useful information, data and tips with you. As an example, the team at Hotel-Spider is ready to answer all questions regarding website and IBE optimisation.
• Test, test, test: Try out these tips and watch your CR grow. Try different photos, texts and conditions in order to find out what combination will be the most appealing to your guests, thereby increasing your CR one step at a time.
As soon as you start implementing these suggestions, you’ll notice your CR start to increase. It is important to keep an eye on both the IBE and website simultaneously.
Even if the IBE seems “smaller” in comparison to the website itself, it is of tremendous importance. A great online presence won't mean anything if the booking process feels clumsy and cumbersome,
so make sure to focus on both areas. In doing so, you stand a good chance of reaching or even exceeding the industry standard CR of 2%.