Tempted by Booking.com's latest Flash Deal promotion? Here's how hoteliers can run their own - without the commission fee or future price parity...
NEW DATA: Is your booking engine working hard enough for your hotel?
Tempted by Booking.com's latest Flash Deal promotion? Here's how hoteliers can run their own - without the commission fee or future price parity issues.
Lily is Lead Product Marketing Manager at Triptease. When she's not investigating the industry or spreading the word that #DirectIsBest, she enjoys music, cycling, and obscure radio quiz shows.
For the latest information on booking engine conversion rates, please read the updated blog here.
A common struggle for many hoteliers is the fact that - unlike most e-commerce sites - the hotel booking experience is split into two distinct elements: the marketing site and the booking engine. While the appearance and performance of the former is typically within the full control of the hotel or their digital marketing agency, the extent of influence hotels have over the booking engine experience can vary widely.
While some hotels may have the ambition and resource to find a booking engine that can be exactly tailored to their needs, many feel they have little option but to choose a generic ‘off-the-shelf’ experience over which they have limited control.
But while there are definite drawbacks to having to depend entirely on a third party to convert your website visitors, there are benefits to the model too: primarily, the ability to shop around and invest in a best-in-class booking experience for your hotel without having to develop it yourself from scratch.
So how do you know which booking engine is best for you?
Triptease's unique ability to track millions of searches and bookings across thousands of hotel websites means we can access and analyze hotel performance data on a huge scale. In this article, we share brand-new data comparing the conversion rates of the most popular booking engines around the world. The results might surprise you.
Benchmark your booking engine performance
In the pre-pandemic world, one of the most valuable things about meeting and sharing with other hoteliers at our Direct Booking Summit events was the opportunity to compare strategies and experiences and evaluate whether you were really getting the best performance for your investment on your booking engine and other essential tech.
We might not be able to meet up and compare notes in person just yet, but there’s still data available to help you make your decision.
For this article, we’ve crunched the numbers across our database of over ten thousand hotels to see how conversion rates compare across some of the biggest booking engines available. The results are revealing: the searcher conversion rate for the highest-performing booking engine is double that of the lowest.
So, could you be missing out on a significant volume of bookings because of a poor user experience on your booking engine? Here’s how the results stack up:
This chart shows the visitor (purple) and searcher (black) conversion rates for the six biggest booking engines by traffic volume among our client base. N.b. the data featured in this article was measured over three complete months, March-June 2021. Visitor conversion rate measures the full-funnel performance of both your marketing site and booking engine, whereas searcher conversion rate essentially measures the performance of your booking engine alone.
In essence, searcher conversion rate is a measure of your booking engine's success, whereas visitor conversion rate is a measure of the combined performance of your website and booking engine together.
While we can’t publicly identify the booking engines included in this study, these charts can be used to benchmark your own performance and identify if there’s room for improvement.
If your booking engine conversion rate is on the lower end of the scale shown here, it might be time for a conversation with your provider - especially if there’s potential for a six-percentage-point increase to your conversion.
It’s also worth paying attention to the visitor conversion rates here. While booking engine B is doing a stellar job of converting searchers who make it onto the rooms & rates page - their searcher conversion rate is 11.5% - hotels using booking engine C are doing a comparatively better job of encouraging their visitors to search. C's visitor conversion rate is 2.3% compared to B's 1.4%.
With such a strong searcher conversion rate, hotels using booking engine B could potentially drive a significant increase in bookings by improving their marketing sites and driving more people through to the booking engine itself.
Is your booking engine holding you back on mobile?
As we’ve written previously, the pandemic has accelerated the general shift towards mobile searches and bookings on hotel websites. Put simply, more people are willing to book their hotel on mobile than ever before.
But most hotels are still lagging behind OTAs when it comes to converting mobile searchers, opening up an opportunity for OTAs to capitalize on changing consumer behavior and further increase their market share.
So, how does your booking engine measure up on mobile?
First of all, it’s worth noting again just how significant the proportion of mobile traffic on hotel websites really is: across every booking engine in this study, mobile visitors account for over half of all web traffic (that is, across both the marketing site and BE).
Those proportions start to shift once we look at search volumes; although mobile remains the majority on most booking engines, the proportion decreases across the board.
While it may be that some mobile traffic is more speculative, with lower intent to book, it’s also clear that hotels could be doing more on their marketing sites to encourage mobile visitors to run a search.
When we recently asked hoteliers to audit each other’s mobile websites in one of our online masterclasses, many of them uncovered quirks and bugs on their mobile websites that made it difficult to actually make a search. If you'd like to quickly audit your own mobile experience, you can access the resources from that event for free here.
The most important metric, though, is how good your mobile booking engine is at turning your mobile traffic into direct bookings. So how do mobile conversion rates compare across the biggest booking engines?
Despite having the highest proportions of mobile traffic, hotels on booking engines D, E and F have the lowest mobile conversion rates of the entire cohort.
In fact hotels on booking engine F only convert half as many searchers as those on booking engine A.
It’s clear there’s a huge opportunity for many hotels to maximize their online booking volumes by improving their mobile booking experience.
How to improve your booking engine conversion rate
Before you can start improving your performance, you need to know where you stand. Do you know your visitor and searcher conversion rates? What about how they compare across devices?
If you’re a Triptease client, you can access this information any time on your Insights homepage, but you can also use an event tracking tool like Google Analytics to measure these metrics.
The Triptease Insights homepage
It’s also a good idea to ask your booking engine provider for the average conversion rate across their portfolio, and whether you’re sitting above or below it; that may give you the information you need to know whether there’s room to improve with the same provider, or whether you’re better off changing booking engine completely.
If you aren’t in a position to change your booking engine right now, but you still want to improve its performance, consider how you can use tailored messaging and personalization to deliver a more compelling experience.
A tool like Triptease’s Targeted Messages delivers proven conversion rate uplift by providing data-driven customer targeting options and a wide range of carefully designed message templates to use on your booking engine.
For instance, if both your visitor and searcher conversion rates are lower than you would like, you could use a timed and personalized Nudge Message on your homepage to encourage visitors to search, then supplement it with urgency notifications and a Price Check message once they are on the booking engine.
Nudge, Notification and Price Check message types
If you'd like to understand more about how to improve your booking engine conversion rate using Triptease Targeted Messages, get in touch today.