Booking Engines – A Hotel’s underdeveloped feature

When it comes to booking engines, hotels tend not to change.

Many hotel websites still function with the setup that they have had for the last ten years, citing the old saying “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it!” 

Well we hate to break it to you, but it probably is.

We’re not saying that your booking engine fails to work at all, but it may secretly be your worst nightmare. Perhaps the clunky format is off-putting. Maybe your booking engine is too complicated and lowers your conversion rate over time.

Or even worse – you don’t have one at all. *shudder*

Booking engines are essential

Your hotel website’s top priority should be a decent booking engine. Not just one with decent functionality, but one that is simple, attractive and drives guests through your conversion funnels. 

Admittedly the concept is not unique to the booking engine, in fact – your entire website should be designed in accordance with these goals, but the booking engine is the cherry on top. 

If your website is the online ‘front door’ of your hotel, the booking engine is the handle. So make sure customers turn it!

What does a good booking engine look like?

“Aesthetically pleasing” is the bland and generic answer, because there is no one single design for every hotel. When it comes to the booking engine design, you must consider:

  • Theme
  • Positioning
  • Informativity
  • Usability

#1 Theme

If your hotel is cutting-edge and modern, then make it modern. If your website design is high-class, then keep it classy.

The key is matching the theme, but not so much that it is camouflaged into the rest of your website. It must stand out of the page somehow. Remember, it is a CALL to action – not a whisper or a scream!

#2 Positioning

Where do you think is best for your booking engine to appear? All the way down at the bottom?

Of course not. Because then a guest has to digest all the information on your site before they even reach the booking engine. 

According to psychological studies, the most prominent position available when humans read a sheet of information is the top-right. While it doesn’t guarantee a converted guest and you may prefer to save that space for something else – it certainly can make your booking engine grab attention!

#3 Informative

Trick question.

Is your booking engine the type of place to bombard your potential guests with more information? Absolutely not.

That’s why a booking engine must be as simple as possible. The surrounding area on the website can be filled with information and pointers towards your booking engine. But on the tool itself? No thank you!

#4 Usability

Guests do not want to work.

That’s why they are staying at your hotel. If they wanted to work hard and do everything themselves, they would have organised alternative accommodation. At the end of the day they want a weekend away or a week-long holiday that’s easy to book and where they don’t have to think!

So make sure that your booking engine is as easy-to-use as it can be. The bare minimum information, with a big button that they can’t miss.

Up-to-date booking engines

“But we fixed all of that years ago!”

You did, and you probably made an excellent job of it. Only one problem – times change.

Marketing changes incredibly quickly. You are more likely to hear about 5 new marketing techniques in the time it takes for the new season of your favourite Netflix show to arrive. (One that note – why not visit the Netflix page and notice how their ‘sign up’ engine is simple, easy, and noticeable! Do you think it hasn’t changed in years, or they played around with it?)

Your booking engine might be old, the response time could be atrocious and the visual aspects of it may be unappealing and outdated. That’s why it is essential to make sure that you are regularly reviewing and revisiting aspects like this.

It is a huge step on the customer journey. It can be the deciding factor between a direct booking at your hotel and a lost customer.

So revisit your booking engine today, and don’t get left behind. If you’ve read this far, you might as well check out this article to learn how to drive direct bookings, prevent brandjacking and recapture guests from OTAs!

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