Five Effective Methods to Secure Online Bookers and Increase Revenue

By Cid Jenkins Vice President, ATG's eStara | January 27, 2012

The Web offers hotels both an opportunity and a challenge. It presents potential travelers with easy access to one company's products and services, but it also gives them the incentive to look elsewhere for a better deal. In today's shifting times, it is more vital than ever for hotels to respond to guest preferences and keep them from looking elsewhere.

For travelers, Web site abandonment is not rare. According to Forrester Research, 47 percent of those who research travel plans online don't end up purchasing through the Web. The challenge here for hotels is to increase revenue by connecting to both business and leisure travelers during their online sessions and offering them an easy and personal guide through the booking experience.

Online travelers generally abandon Web sites when faced with pricing or technical support issues. In the past, hotels felt they could address these concerns by providing prospective customers with self-service tools, such as an "About Us" page or FAQs. However, due to the complex nature of some transactions, whether making hotel reservations or booking special travel packages, companies are recognizing that they need to be more effective at securing, supporting, and retaining their online customers. Here, I offer five effective methods designed to help hotels increase revenue and secure online transactions, even in these shifting economic times.

1. Connect with your travelers

As I mentioned before, booking travel reservations online can be a very complex process. Occasionally, customers may reach a point during the booking process that prevents them from completing their reservation online. To avoid this, more and more hotels are implementing both click to call and click to chat to increase online revenue, reduce Web site abandonment, and improve customer loyalty and contact center efficiency.

A recent report from Forrester Research finds that firms that are successful in implementing interactive help, including click to chat and click to call, are quick to move consumers from the Web to the phone. Hotels are recognizing that they need to connect with their travelers when issues arise on the Web during the booking process to avoid losing their attention and buying power. By giving travelers the opportunity to directly connect with an agent through the click of a button embedded on a Web site, issues are immediately resolved, and customers gain the insight, information, or confidence they need to complete their booking.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.