I was with a group of Hotel Sales Directors in FITUR last week discussing the pros and cons of the booking engines they have on their own website. They all realise that their brand website will become and is today a focal point of their online sales strategy, however, it was very interesting to hear how they view the booking engine they currently have. Most of the feedback was positive with the good layout of the backend, how it is was easy to change pricing and how they could quickly load their last minute promotions etc. That is all great, but for me, they are all missing one key element and maybe the most important one of all. Is it easy for the client to navigate? can it compete with booking.com? Can it integrate well with my website so provide a seamless solution for my web visitors? Is it secure?
With the market full of great functioning booking engines that do the job, why are there so few that really work for the client? To demonstrate this, I have chosen 2 very different booking engines, Evolution and Hotelient. The reason I have chosen these 2 is that I have used both of them and I like them both for very different reasons. I was a big fan of the backend of Evolution, easy to use, easy to change pricing, restrictions, photos etc. However, my clients found it difficult to navigate, could not find what they were looking for, preferred to call the hotel and book over the phone. What about the clients that did not phone to book and just went straight to booking.com as they found it easier? After extensive market research I decided to change to Hotelient, as I was becoming very aware that I had to find a booking engine that competed with booking.com, especially now that the price guarantee has disappeared. Only when I started using it did I begin to realize what a powerful tool this Booking Engine is to improve the % of conversions on my website.
To demonstrate this, I have put together a list of things you can do on Hotelient that you cannot do on Evolution.
- Complete Analytical tool, see which dates your clients are searching for, lead time, average nights, average revenue, from which countries and from which referrer.
- Sell Gift Vouchers online and separately from your booking engine.
- Different booking engine for each language – personalise to suit every market.
- Create separate booking engines exclusively for different promotions or company rates that can be inserted to their extranet.
- Create Client record, save their details for future bookings
- Facebook only promotions
- Change daily inventory, which when only a few rooms are left to sell, appear in bold on the booking engine (like booking.com)
- Promotions shown even if do not meet search criteria to incentivize higher spend.
- Changing Meal Plans
- Configure, add & personalize automatic emails for clients.
- Ability to create Flash Deals
Apart from the above, it is a smarter, cleaner and more user friendly booking engine and the backend is very easy to navigate. The powerful analytics offer you key data that is invaluable for any city centre revenue manager looking to see when they need to launch promotions for distressed occupancy periods.
Having a great booking engine is only part of the story, if you really want to increase your website bookings. You need to also find a way how to increase your client marketing database and direct them to your website to book and keep them coming back. Making it easy for your clients to reserve your hotel & resort on your brand site is a great first step, but has to be part of a wider online marketing strategy. Hotelient can help your hotel or resort with an overall and complete digital marketing solution to increase your direct online revenue streams and online visibility. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to find out more