The need for speed - on booking engines and beyond

Welcome to part 1 in our series: What's in a widget?

In this blog series, we'll take a look at what makes a sterling price comparison widget - and what you can do to get the best out of yours. Today, we'll start with the need for speed - hold on tight!

First, a little background...

Google did a study on why consumers don’t book direct on hotel websites.

The results were astounding and indicated a huge opportunity for hotels: While two thirds of people say they would prefer to book direct given the choice, 76% of people thought it was cheaper to book on an OTA and so did so.

Direct bookings mean far more than a simple reduction in commission payments for hoteliers. Collecting user data on the website allows hotels to get a deeper understanding of guests and effectively initiate a relationship with guests before they even step foot in the hotel - and that's not to mention whole new avenues of personalisation that are opened up on arrival.

Let's change that misconception. Here's how: 

  1. Price transparency: Be quick to reassure your guests that direct is best and convert the looker to booker
  2. Best prices: A guarantee as powerful as it is accurate. (More on this here)

Using price as a weapon

Price dominates the decision process for travel bookings, according to eDigital Research. Yet OTAs have gained a reputation for the cheapest prices through some pretty phenomenal marketing budgets.

BRG Ads

Here's the good news: most guests will visit your website during that one-month ‘research-planning-booking’ odyssey we've all been on. It's the hospitality industry's answer to ‘try before you buy’.

And if there's one place in the whole internet where you're boss, make it your website. It's time for a little nudge in the right direction: 

“A-hem – we have the best price right here – look!”

By displaying a simple comparison between the price for a particular search on the hotel website and the price shown for the same search on OTAs - you will reassure the guest that booking direct is best. What’s more, the price comparison function on your website will save guests time as they will undoubtedly be developing (a misinformed!) comparison in their head.

PC on screen

(In parity? Great! Coming soon: skip over to Part 3 to find out what the perfect widget really tells guests....)

The need for speed

According to Kissmetrics, 47% website users expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less. Timing is everything.

This handy chart gives you a feel for how fast your website needs to be loading on the whole - and the impact this will has on conversions:

Hobo-web speed chart

Your price comparison widget should be no different.

Through constantly iterating and tweaking Price Check, we're nailing the optimum time to display the widget on your website, resulting in the highest level of conversion.

We've learnt that for Price Check, conversion in fact peaks at 2.25 seconds. Any slower and you'll annoy a guest, just as a slow website would. But any faster and - information overload - some of the conversion impact gets lost. Take a peep at this sample set we tested earlier in the year:

Time to load v Conversion

It's clear that speed can have a huge impact on conversion, yet for every search the factor weighting is different. Our smart algorithm take into account a number of factors (the various OTA prices available, accuracy, country, currency and much much more...) and is fine tuned to weigh these against eachother and against the need for speed.

Keeping it real

Timing is nothing without delivery. Which is why we allow you to tailor how to display your price comparison according to what your guest has been looking at.

Sometimes a simple widget might be all that's needed, but often you can do better: by showing the data in Front Desk, for example, you reiterate the fact that the data is a live comparison and also open up a channel for your guest to engage directly, asking any questions they might have. Ultimately, you're more likely leading to a booking. Find out more about Front Desk messaging...

Front Desk price comparison

Progress to part 2 to get to grips with accuracy...

About The Author

Triptease empowers hotels to recapture guest relationships and increase direct bookings. Follow our blog for the latest insights and trends in the Direct Booking Movement.