Interesting research being released by Triptease this week following a survey and usability testing with consumers into their browsing behaviour on hotel websites.
Travel websites have notoriously low conversion rates, so TripTease's motivation in part is to find out what booking sites (hotels and online travel agencies) can do to add just a percentage or two to that ratio and improve the customer experience.
Triptease boss Charlie Osmond says consumers will book direct on a hotel website, but only if the experience is "easy and intuitive".
"There are some great hotel websites that provide a fabulous experience for the guest. The future is here but it is just unevenly distributed.
"By surfacing what the guest wants we are helping to level the playing field for hoteliers."
It's probably not as simple as that, of course, with mega-brands such s Priceline-owned Booking.com and Expedia doing their level best to attract consumers early in the consumer purchase funnel with heavy spend on Google advertising.
Still, Lennertde Jong, commercial director at CitizenM, says "a hotel's website is like a boutique".
Another important element, Jong suggests, is that consumers may find the best products, but should feel that they have the best deal available to them, through "reassure me"-type functionality on a website.
"Hotels have to do all they can to get guests to understand the brand and the concept and for me transparency and reassurance is critical to that.”
So, what are the some of the main findings from the study, and what should brands do about it?
1. Make it simple, short and clean
94% of people have abandoned a booking online recently, 29% because of factors related to the system being used.
2. Photos, photos, photos
The best hotels, show, don’t tell. 70% of people rely on photos to learn about a hotel.
3. Show me lots of dates
71% of people agreed that being shown prices on dates either side of the ones they’ve selected is useful to them.
4. Put it in my currency
53% of people told us they are frustrated by being shown prices in currencies other than theirs.
5. Tell me I’ve made a good choice
We all love reassurance that we have paid the cheapest price, so show guests how much they have saved.
6. Tell me what else I could have
68% of people said it was useful when they are shown what add-ons they can pay for during the booking process.
7. Shorten the delay in gratification
Payment doesn’t spell the end. Content gets guests even more excited.
8. Let me use my Facebook Login
26% of people told us they would log in using Facebook on a hotel’s website if it were available.
NB: Download the full results and ebook.