So, you spent a fortune creating a booking engine, and you have all the major hotels in the top travel destinations listed on your website. In addition to which, you heavily advertised your offerings on both the traditional, as well as digital channels to make customers aware of your presence and offer promotions tempting them to make transactions on your website. Despite all the efforts, you are still not seeing the look-to-click-to-book conversion rates that you expected! Sounds like a familiar problem?
In today’s global market, having the maximum number of hotels and offering deep discounts have become the points of parity. If you really want to differentiate, it is crucial to look at the hotel content that you are providing on your travel website to the users.
In order to address this concern, first and foremost it is essential to spend ample time to understand your customer segments that are actually transacting on the website. Identifying that, Millennials’ form a large chunk of the transacting customer base and understanding this ‘new-age’ traveller’s behavior is crucial. New-age travellers include the Millennials who belong to the age bracket of 18-34yrs., for whom Hotel stay is more than just an accommodation option in a foreign land. For them, hotel information that is most recent and authentic is important during the pre-booking phase and service delivery matching to the promises made is essential in the post booking phase.
Images and Virtual Tours – It is proven in numerous surveys that images play a crucial role in increasing customer engagement during the pre-booking phase. The use of high-resolution images, correctly optimized for multiple-device compatibility is essential. Removing duplicate images and curating the best images from multiple suppliers along with the right captions is an exercise that OTAs should take up to improve customer engagement. If a picture speaks a thousand words, virtual tours speak a million words. OTAs should try to showcase various multimedia resources that give a good idea about the hotel that a customer may want to book. Providing room-level information, rather than combining all the images into one large gallery is an effort worth taking for an OTA to give a good idea of the premium features that a ‘Deluxe Room’ provides. It is important to note that there are several third-party image aggregating and curating services available in the market today to carry out such exercises on images and the effort invested in classifying the images and mapping them to the respective room types. Such third party services are available nowadays.
User Reviews and Social Media – You may curate the best possible images and come up with the best possible description about a hotel. However, something that is ‘too good to be true’ is also not believable by these new-age travellers. These travellers usually verify the information with review portals and social networking sites to check, if the hotel is as good as it claims to be. Given that this creates multiple steps for users and takes them away from your travel website, it is important to build the capability to gather user feedback within your website. At the same time, it is equally important to integrate with third-party review sites so that both the advertised information and the authentic user feedback are at the same place. Please note that integrating user reviews, also builds the credibility for your brand.
Amenities’ Information – Images and Amenities are most looked for rather than the description itself. A missing amenity may result in a lost booking. By missing out listing amenities like Wi-Fi you may have lost many customers. The incorrect listing of amenities, like saying that parking is available but in reality it may not be available. This will invite the wrath of most customers and may even spoil your brand name for falsely listing amenities. Therefore, it is very important to verify the star-rating and listing of amenities, rather than blindly taking the amenities listing from the supplier. Auxiliary services such as Dry-cleaning, Massage and Spa services are actually searched for, and customers are ready to pay for the same.
Neighborhood and Activities Information – Distance from the airport, information about the public transport and the distance to the nearest metro is helpful information that customers look for. Though this information does not come in the purview of the hotel, Millennials increasingly look for convenience features around the hotel, before booking. Millennials blend travel with leisure and hence, information about the activities around the hotel is of high interest.
OTAs can either undertake all the activities of curating images and information for best possible hotel content presentation or take the help of a third-party content syndication platform, in order to provide them with this valuable information.