Conversion Rate Optimization: The “Other” Hotel CRO

You’ve been studying your hotel web site analytics, and you’ve discovered a disturbing trend. Visitors are up, thanks to your SEO and edistribution efforts. Some visitors are even starting to book a room—only to abandon the process halfway through. Even more visitors never start booking a room at all.

What gives?

You’re looking at an opportunity for hotel CRO or conversion rate optimization.

Why No Bookings?

If you’re looking for reasons why an uptick in web site visits are not translating into increased bookings, the first area to scrutinize is the site’s landing page. This could be the home page or any page visitors tend to land on first when coming from other places on the web—search engine results, social media, or travel-oriented web sites.

Take a hard look at that landing page, trying to see it from a customer’s perspective. Better yet, ask a few people whose opinions you trust to look at it and pass along their impressions.

Chances are, all your hard work making it easy for customers to find your hotel web site is going to waste. Why? Once they land on the page, you aren’t making it equally easy to book a room. Ask yourself:

  • Where is your “book now” link or button? It should be in a place of honor at or near the top of the page—big and easy to see, not a wimpy text link or worse, located so far down the page the customer has to scroll to find it.
  • How quickly can customers go from web site lookers to room bookers? Are you requiring them to click through several account creation screens first before they can even look at available dates? That right there is a big bottleneck you can eliminate by allowing visitors to one-click register with an existing Facebook or other social media account.
  • How simple is your pricing structure, and how easy is it to find and apply a special rate that a customer might have originally spotted via a pay-per-click ad elsewhere on the web?

Test Different Alternatives

Once you think you’ve pinpointed the issues, develop two or three alternative page layouts to test. Watch the looker-to-booker conversion rate carefully to see which layout resonates best with customers. Bring your “beta lookers” back for another round of viewings and critiques.

Another useful tool to consider is a survey that pops up before a visitor leaves the site. Though many will skip it, enough will take the time to offer some valuable insights.

Finally, don’t be surprised if what you feared might require a major web site overhaul turns out to only require a few minor changes. Little tweaks can have a big impact.

Want to convert more lookers to bookers? We can help with hotel CRO. Contact us today!

Hotel Technology: What’s New in Hotel CRO Software

The list of hotel CRO (central reservations office) software choices seems to grow longer by the minute. It wasn’t too long ago we posted an article on the newest CRO packages on the horizon. In a few short months, more have popped up.

 

Which one is right for your hotel? There’s no one-size-fits-all, but we’re happy to give you the rundown on what’s available.

 

yourVoyager

Trust International’s yourVoyager takes a “create your own” approach to the CRO experience and includes these benefits:

  • Multiple languages to eliminate a commonly encountered barrier
  • Simple, easy-to-navigate user interface
  • Flexible enough to create one interface for a multi-facility hotel chain and another customized interface for each individual facility
  • Ability to choose which performance indicators are most important to you and to generate regular reports
  • Internal messaging system for quick, easy communication among all linked facilities

 

A few key features include:

  • Smooth integration with all major hotel global distribution system (GDS) channels
  • Ability to integrate with property management systems (PMS), revenue management systems (RMS), and customer relations management systems (CRM)
  • Embedded modules that help you manage room inventory, customizable reports, and HTML emails in response to customer reservations

 

Optima CRM

Optima CRM is just one part of an overall hotel management software universe developed by Silverbyte Systems Ltd. Optima’s main functions include:

  • Ability to include and handle the needs of all members of the traveler’s party, not just the one paying the bill
  • Modules for marketing campaigns and mailing lists
  • Tools to manage the sales representative team and their myriad tasks
  • Members’ club/loyalty program features
  • Data cleanup and management tools to eliminate duplication and accidental profile loss
  • Familiar and easy-to-use interface if you’re already using the Optima suite

 

Most hotel CRO software developers offer training, try-it-before-you-buy-it options, and 24/7 support. Whether you choose an established CRO package or a new kid on the block, you have nothing to lose by trying one on for size. For expert advice on hotel CRO, contact Smart eHotels™ today.

Hotel CRO: Are Your CRO Procedures Ultra Efficient?

Congratulations! Your hotel chain has grown to the point it needs a central reservations office, or CRO, to handle the volume of reservations. However, you’ve noticed that your hotel CRO staff members seem a little harried. They’re all on the phone and the hold lights are flashing everywhere.

This may not be a sign that all is well, since a customer who has to wait too long is a customer lost. Few people have the time or patience to wait even a few minutes to make a hotel reservation via phone. They’ll hang up and move on to the competition rather than cool their heels listening to soothing music.

So how do you know if your hotel CRO is running as efficiently as possible?

The Answer’s in the Phone Data

If you’re using an automated phone system that manages incoming calls, you most likely have access to activity reports that contain data such as:

  • Number of “failed” customers.
    These are callers who never became customers because they hung up while on hold.
  • Average time a customer waits on hold.
    It’s good to shoot for a time-on-hold goal. Many top-tier companies aim to answer about 80 percent of calls with a live person within 20 seconds. If you find your CRO is consistently falling short of this goal, it could be time to add more staff.
  • How long a customer service representative spends on each call.
    Depending on the complexity of your hotel chain’s rate structure, along with the type of travelers who book at your facilities, the average call time can be anywhere from two to five minutes. Call times under two minutes aren’t necessarily desirable—this could mean a representative isn’t spending enough time sharing information or upselling, or that the calls are ending without the customer making a reservation.
  • Percentage of calls that end with a reservation made.
    This is a data point that should be looked at over a longer period of time since conversion rates can vary greatly by the day of the week or the time of year. For example, you’ll have times you’re turning people away because you’re sold out, and slow times when almost every call results in a booking, which can skew the statistics.

Note: The number of calls lost because all the lines are busy can usually only be obtained from the phone company.

If you’d like to convert more callers into loyal customers, SmarteHotels.com can help. Contact us today!

Hotel CRO Software: It’s All About the Cloud

Your hotel doesn’t need to belong to a big chain to function like it has a central reservations office (CRO). A number of software packages on the market include hotel CRO as part of an overall property management system. Best yet, many of them are now cloud based, so there’s nothing to download, update, or hog space on your existing computer system.

Here are a few examples of hotel CRO software packages:

Designed to work for hotel properties of any size, Frontdesk Anywhere’s intuitive design makes it easy to visually track room availability at any time. Point and click to make a reservation or view a folio. It’s easy for a beginner to use and for power users to take full advantage of bulk updating. Another great feature is the just-in-time room assignment capability that keeps you from continually juggling reservations. The whole software suite includes tools to manage housekeeping, work orders, credit cards, marketing channels, and Facebook integration. Yield management software is also included.

GuestPoint has the small- and medium-sized, independent hotel in mind. This package includes an individual and group reservations function that maximizes the growing potential of online bookings. It’ll even allow customers to book straight from Facebook or their mobile device instead of hunting for your web site’s reservation page or calling your reservations line. GuestPoint also lets you manage invoices, statements, email confirmations, travel agent commissions, customer history, and more.

The core modules of this package include direct reservations, Internet reservations, booking engine channel reservations, itinerary tools, reservation change tracking, credit card handling, guest history, and many general property management tools.

Skyware allows hotels to manage their own online reservations, commission free. You can manage reservations in real time from your own web site using multiple language options. You also have the ability to handle groups, special packages, and add-ons such as spa activities and incidentals.

SmarteHotels.com can get your hotel CRO efforts off the ground—and into the cloud. Contact us today.

Hotel CRO and Business Meetings: Tips for Pre-Meeting Planning

In the hotel industry, first and last impressions are critical. Here are a few tips to make sure that when your hotel hosts a business meeting, the customer’s experience is positive from check in to check out.

  • Make use of a Central Reservations Office (CRO)
    If you don’t have a hotel CRO service, seriously consider adding this to your front desk operations. When a hundred or more business meeting participants are descending upon your hotel at roughly the same time while overnight guests are attempting to check out, nothing will spoil that critical first and last impression than a staff who must turn away from a customer standing in front of them in order to answer the phone.
    A CRO’s voice service will catch those calls, keep you from losing potential customers, and keep the staff engaged with the customer in the lobby.
  • Give the person in charge of the meeting an upgraded room or a few extra amenities.
    Planning and running a business meeting is stressful. Providing a suite with plenty of room to spread out, Wi-Fi and Ethernet outlets, 24-hour access to a fax and copy machine, mini-fridge, extra coffee for the coffeemaker, and maybe a voucher for a free drink at the bar will go a long way toward winning repeat business.
  • Bilingual staff
    If you have staff members that are bilingual, let them know their services may be needed for a multi-national conference. It also might be a good idea to compile a list of local people willing to serve as interpreters should the need arise.
  • Keep the customer looking sharp.
    No one wants to appear at an important business meeting looking rumpled. If your hotel doesn’t have them already, consider tucking small steam irons and compact ironing boards into the closets of business-class rooms. A mini sewing kit to fix a dangling button or torn hem is also a much-appreciated amenity.
  • Loo switcheroo
    Anticipate the needs of the meeting attendees. For example, if the meeting is to be attended primarily by women, consider converting a nearby men’s restroom into a women’s by hanging a temporary sign on the door. Those who would otherwise be standing in line will thank you.

SmarteHotels.com can help you make your hotel a business meeting mecca. Contact us today to get help with setting up your own hotel CRO or for other tips.