How to Scare Off Online Prospects... Without Really Trying

By John Federman CEO, eStara | January 27, 2012

Hotel operators have been, for the most part, aggressive and smart in offering potential customers information about their properties online. In fact, the Web and e-commerce play such a central role in attracting customers, we often don't think about how a Website might actually turn off prospective clients.

I'm a frequent traveler - hundreds of flights, countless hotel rooms and entirely too much time spent with unhelpful online booking services. The frustration has driven me to be disloyal to many well-known brands. My profile makes me the exact target customer that all of you are trying to reach. I travel all over the country several days a week. So I have a few helpful tips that might help you create stronger, more loyal relationships with frequent business travelers like me.

Hotels in the U.S. generated more than $105.3 billion in revenue last year. That number is expected to grow according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association. That said, here are five Website missteps that that are sure to turn off your customers, before you've even spoken with them.

1) DRIVING THE PROCESS DOWN A SINGLE PATH

Many hotel websites make the mistake of assuming to understand every possible objection customers may have and refuting them. How so? By making the customer proceed down one path without offering any options as to when or where they can book or contact you for information.

According to Jupiter Research, cost reduction strategies for hotels include encouraging direct online bookings, yet consumers making bookings still prefer online travel agencies (OTAs) and hotel phone reservation systems to hotel websites. Why is that? Because they're more flexible when it comes to working with the booker's needs.

Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.