Benchmark your hotel booking engine performance

A question that comes up time and again when the Triptease team speaks to hoteliers, is what a good hotel booking engine conversion rate looks like. While every business is different and there can never be a ‘best' booking engine for hotels, taking a look into typical conversion rates can offer some guidance. Fortunately, tracking customer booking behavior on over 10,000 hotel websites globally puts us in a unique position to be able to analyze exactly this kind of data.

While we previously ran in-depth booking engine software analysis back in June 2021, the rapid pace of change in the hospitality industry over the past year means that it’s always a good time to take another look, and to make sure that your online booking engine is working as hard as possible for your hotel.

In this article we’ll share new data comparing the conversion rates of the most popular booking engines around the world. This analysis was drawn from Triptease global hotel data from November 2021 to January 2022.

Looking for a more detailed analysis of how your website and booking engine compares?
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Benchmark your booking engine performance

One key learning has remained consistent since the last time this analysis was run: There is a huge difference between the searcher conversion rate of the highest and lowest performing booking engines from our comparison set. In fact, the searcher conversion rate of the highest-performing booking engine is now more than three times higher than the lowest. That means if you’re currently at the lower end of the scale, you could be missing out on a significant volume of bookings because of a poor booking engine user experience.

This graph looks at global booking data from November 2021 to January 2022 for a list of hotel booking engines that are most widely used by Triptease customers. Visitor conversion rate measures the full-funnel performance of both your marketing site and booking engine, whereas searcher conversion rate essentially measures the performance of your booking engine alone.

Searcher conversion rate is a measure of your booking engine's success, whereas user conversion rate is a measure of the combined performance of your website and booking engine together.

What’s interesting to note here is the significant jump between the user/visitor conversion rate and the searcher conversion rate. It’s no surprise that customers who actually reach your booking engine have a much higher chance of running a search and completing a booking. What this chart shows is that there is huge room for improvement across the board when it comes to guiding website visitors to the booking engine and encouraging them to search.

Using personalized messaging to guide website visitors more easily towards your booking engine is one quick tip every hotel can employ, no matter how well your booking engine currently performs. A Triptease Nudge Message is one of the most popular ways of doing this. The clue is in the name - this is a small, subtle message that can be set up to display to specific types of customers, providing additional information, discounts or special offers that will encourage them to visit the booking engine and run a search. Here are a few examples:


Get your booking engine ready for the rebound

With so many signals that the severity of the pandemic is decreasing, and with the travel rebound continuing to gather force, now is the time to make sure that your website and booking engine are set up and ready to convert every customer that visits.

If benchmarking your own hotel against the data above has made it clear that your booking experience could be working harder, there are some quick, simple changes you can make that will have significant impact.

A price comparison message - like Triptease Price Check - is designed to appear on the booking engine when your customer runs a search. If you have the best price online, it will show the customer your price compared to those of your selected OTAs. This gives them peace of mind that they’ve found the best price direct and there’s no need to visit other websites to double check. Price Check works on both desktop and mobile booking engines, plus there’s a version that can be embedded directly into the booking engine page content, providing a more subtle, premium feel.

Even if you don’t currently have the best price online, there are still ways to keep that customer on your website and persuade them that the best deal is direct. An Undercut Message can be set up to appear when you don’t have the best price for the customer’s search. Adding discount code functionality to this message - allowing you to instantly offer the customer an exclusive discount code or added extra benefit when they book direct - can make the difference between securing the booking or losing your customer to an OTA.

Of course, there is always a chance that the customer is just simply not ready to make their booking today, which is where retargeting can help. Triptease Retargeting provides fully-dynamic display ads, meaning you can show a customer their most recent search itinerary and your most compelling price for their dates even after they’ve left your website. Stay front of mind and bring customers back to the booking engine when they’re ready to convert.

How does your booking engine compare on mobile?

Customer preference for mobile was already a significant trend before the pandemic and has only continued to grow, as the graph below shows.

This is great news if your hotel is already optimized for mobile customers. Unfortunately, Triptease data also shows that - while mobile visitors continue to make up the majority of all website visitors, that number drops to only 46-53% of searchers, and then to only 28-38% of bookers.

So what does that tell us? Customers want to use mobile, but it’s likely that hotel booking experiences are still not offering a user-friendly path to making their purchase on mobile, so they give up. Alternatively, mobile searchers may not be ready or willing to book on their mobile, which is why Triptease recently launched ‘Save search’ messaging for mobile hotel websites (you can read more about this feature below).

We see this same trend for mobile usage reflected across all the booking engines we analyzed, with more than half of visitors in all cases being on mobile.

That said, in almost every instance - from the top performing booking engine right down to the lowest - the mobile booking engine typically converts at less than half the rate of the desktop booking engine. The only exceptions are booking engines C, D and I in the graph below which convert at slightly over half the rate of the desktop booking engine.

That’s a huge number of potential direct bookings dropping out at the most crucial point of the journey. So even if your own mobile booking conversion rate is at the higher end of the scale, there’s clearly still many improvements that can be made to the mobile booking process to capture more of those customers.

Equally, if you’re at the lower end of the scale there are still lots of ways you can improve the experience for customers on your existing mobile booking experience.

Triptease Targeted Messages are created with a mobile-first mentality, which means that we focus on building functionality that will work seamlessly across both desktop and mobile experiences.

An example of this is our newly launched Save search message. This message works on both desktop and mobile, allowing your customers to use email or native sharing features (such as text messaging or social media platforms like WhatsApp and Twitter) to share their search details so that they can return to their booking later.

Save search is currently the third highest performing Triptease message type in terms of conversion rate so this is definitely an easy win for hotels looking to make quick improvements!

A wide range of Triptease Targeted Messages have been designed to work seamlessly on mobile as well as desktop. For more details and an assessment of your mobile booking experience, get in touch with the team via the form below.

Price parity is still the key to great conversion rates - especially from metasearch

While the analysis above can be helpful in showing you the potential booking engine performance that is available to you, it's of course not possible to ever know exactly what a particular booking engine is going to do for your hotel. To win a race you need a great car and a great driver - so while choosing a booking engine that typically provides a high performance can get you some of the way there, the rest is up to you. That means spending time monitoring parity and keeping your rate distribution under control using tools like Triptease’s Parity products.

The single greatest factor that drives direct bookings is price - and with more customer booking journeys than ever before starting on metasearch (where prices are front and center) your parity has never mattered more.

Looking specifically at Triptease metasearch data, we can see that having the best available rate on your direct channel could triple your booking engine conversion rate. In other words, it can triple your chance of converting lookers into bookers.

Note that this is booking engine conversion rate (meta bookings/meta impressions) - so it represents people who went on to book after having specifically searched for a hotel on metasearch. It is the combined effect of both getting that click on metasearch, compounded by the higher propensity of that guest to convert, because they saw a better price. This is not to be confused with website conversion rate, which denotes the rate at which any visitor to your website goes on to book.

How to secure a booking engine conversion even when you don’t have the best price on metasearch

Metasearch customers are the most price sensitive visitors to your website. If you’re being undercut on metasearch, they’ll already know that you don’t have the best available price but it’s likely they’ll still visit your website for research purposes before heading to an OTA to book the better rate.

If a potential customer has seen a better price elsewhere in their metasearch results, Triptease tools allow you to automatically provide them with a promo code when they arrive on your website.

This will disrupt the typical journey of a metasearch customer who has seen a better price elsewhere, giving them clear reason to stay on your website and book direct. The best bit? In addition to increasing your booking engine conversion rate, this new feature maximizes your metasearch ROI too. Paying for clicks in the metasearch auction is money down the drain if that customer visits your website then books somewhere else. Offering exclusive discounts and special offers to customers that you know have seen a better price in metasearch means less wasted budget and more direct relationships with your customers.

At Triptease we believe that real direct booking success comes from joining up data and learnings from across the entire customer journey, and this is a prime example of our strategy in action.

This unique ‘whole booking journey’ approach means you can provide personalized experiences on site, based on what that guest has just experienced off site. If a customer has seen a better price on meta, you’ll likely need to make a better offer than usual on your website in order to convert them. If a customer hasn’t seen a better price elsewhere, there’s no need to provide the same kind of discount. Triptease allows you to offer this level of tailored targeting automatically. That saves you time and money, and ensures that every guest gets the right booking experience.

Looking to improve booking engine conversion rates?

Getting your booking engine (and website!) set up to maximize revenue should be a priority for all hotels this year as travel continues to rebound. If you’d like to know more about how you currently compare, or if you’re looking for advice to improve your direct booking strategy, fill out the form below to speak to a Triptease direct booking expert.


About The Author

Holly is a Lead Product Marketing Manager at Triptease.

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