A booking engine must: retaining and upselling to customers

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hospitality-business
A booking engine for your hotel’s website – or the sites of your several hotels – shouldn’t just provide a smooth customer journey for users. That’s a given. A high-performing booking engine should provide more; it should be retaining and upselling to guests committed to making a reservation. The question is, how?

Dynamic features to retain customers
Just like popular, impressively performing websites, effective reservation systems for hotels can’t be passive. To that end, it’s imperative that a booking engine is proactive in retaining customers. If a room desired by a visitor simply isn’t available, then it should be the booking engine’s job to ensure they don’t leave the site, but are instead offered an alternative. By way of example, Digital Hotelier’s reservation system solution, Booking Direct, features a comprehensive price comparison function that’s been designed precisely for this purpose.

Moreover, the likes of strike-through pricing and periodic prompts aren’t just informative for the customer but also effective at nudging behaviour, as they generate a sense of urgency and enhance conversion. Indeed, they complement active room listings because, conversely, these reassure the user, along with value messaging and social endorsement. Any booking engine worth its salt should include these features.

And, while we’re at it, we shouldn’t forget promo codes and voucher codes. Booking Direct can be set up to pre-populate a field with rate/ promotional codes pre-existing in a hotel’s Property Management System (PMS), while voucher codes are also possible for loyal guests, enabling them to enjoy relevant discounts come the check-out page.

Nor should we discount the importance of multiple language options (easing the booking process for non-English speakers) or multiple currency options (enabling users to check room rates in the currency they’re most familiar with and from wherever they hail). All in all, these intuitive features should be incorporated into a reservation system because they actively reduce friction on the path to purchase. They combine to form a powerful package for retaining users during the customer journey.

Hotel booking engine

Upselling opportunities
Once it’s ensured a user isn’t going anywhere and will complete the customer journey, a strong booking engine’s job is pretty much done, right? All it must do now is function smoothly through to check-out. That’s absolutely what many a booking engine will do. But a booking engine that offers something extra – quite literally – does more; it goes the extra mile. Booking Direct, for example, is a hotel website booking engine designed with upselling in mind; the capacity to offer and entice a user with something beyond their intended purchase.

Indeed, such a reservation system is deliberately set up to increase revenue thanks to its intelligent user experience design (UX) and persuasive prompting. It aims to generate higher value bookings via upgrade options in the customer check-out area – for instance, intuitive ‘personal’ touches for the guest’s stay (which may persuade them to extend it) like fresh flowers on arrival, chocolates and champagne for a special occasion or, say, a choice of pillows.

A smart, comprehensive booking engine like this can also be tailored to ‘special offer’ rate plans and package offers; from specific pages, the user can scroll through various rate plans and packages and select accordingly. Perhaps they’ll be attracted by a particular package and so lengthen their stay? Mention should also be made of the automated option of pre-stay/ post-stay emails – tailored to the purchase just made or the stay just enjoyed at a hotel. They’re fantastic marketing tools to keep the hotel/guest relationship going – designed to increase the likelihood of repeat reservations, and in turn increasing the site’s conversion rate and incremental revenue.

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