What the hotel industry can learn from ecommerce websites
September 28, 2022
Think about the last time you booked a hotel stay.
What were your expectations? Speed? Ease? Convenience? Unfortunately, there’s a pretty high chance you were let down by the booking experience.
The basket abandonment rate in the hotel sector currently sits at over 80% – that’s around 15% higher than average for ecommerce brands.
But hotels and ecommerce brands are different, right? Can we really compare then?
Yes and no.
Whilst there are key differences in the way these two business types operate, and of course in what they are selling, they are in fact both selling something to a customer. And in 2022, in a world in which customer behaviour has evolved to prefer online purchasing across the board, hotels need to start thinking of themselves as ecommerce businesses.
In this blog we take a look at what the hotel industry can learn from ecommerce websites, from checkout processes to marketing.
Streamline your systems
What often proves tricky for the hotels is bringing several booking systems into one smooth process. This is where getting website integrations right is key. It’s especially key for luxury properties with spas, multiple restaurants or sporting activities such as golf. You may have to use separate booking platforms for spa treatments, restaurant reservations and room bookings, which is where the process can get very fragmented, and customers can grow frustrated and give up.
No one wants to have to switch between screens and checkout three separate times for one overnight stay. The streamlined buying process we see on any good ecommerce website should be a reference point for hotels when it comes to their own customer journey.
The fewer clicks, the better
Even if you’ve streamlined your processes into one, your work may not be done. Hotels need to treat the online booking process the same as any other checkout process. How many screens or stages does your customer have to navigate through before payment is completed? It is clear what’s expected from potential guests? Are booking conformations instant and informative?
Showcase your ‘products’
If a potential guest has never stayed at your hotel before, and just discovered the property online, what type of impression are you giving them? A guest’s first impression of your hotel often comes from your website.
Photo and video are key components of a hotel’s website. Just as an ecommerce brand needs to showcase products in the best possible light, taking into account angles, close up shots, and a mix of lifestyle images with more polished photography, so do hotels trying to fill rooms. Video is an emerging trend within hospitality websites – luxury hotel and resort chain Four Seasons execute this very well, creating a more immersive digital experience which makes website visitors want to be there – and ultimately generates bookings.
Another common trap hotels seem to fall into is failing to refresh their website’s homepage. Ecommerce websites will switch up homepage banners depending on the season, trending topics/events, new product launches or special offers running at the time. This means they’re constantly giving consumers fresh content which is much more likely to hold their interest and keep them coming back to the site. Hotels should do the same – if a particular room type has low occupancy over the next month, upload an enticing image on the homepage which links directly to the booking engine.
Make it personal
Hotels attract people from all over the world. And that means people are making online bookings from numerous territories – the easier you can make it for them to book, the more likely you are to convert. Consider adding the ability to switch between languages and currencies, which is something we’ve seen be highly effective for ecommerce brands such as Yogamatters, and you could see bookings soar. Whilst your reservations team can’t speak every language, your website can.
The hotel industry is more competitive than ever, with the majority of consumers having access to the world’s best venues from the tap of their smartphone screens. How you market yourself matters more than ever before.
From ensuring your website is optimised for key search terms, to having remarketing ads in place to capture abandoned bookings, ensure all bases are covered. If you aren’t posting regular blog content, start now, taking into account commonly Googled questions about your hotel, the location, and the activities on offer.