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The importance of retargeting abandoned hotel bookings

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By Kirsty Beasley, Market Development Manager, Profitroom

According to data from 2019, more than 5 out of 6 prospective guests drop out of the online booking process before confirming – a whopping 84.63%.

While this is somewhat astonishing, it serves to provide an enormous opportunity for hoteliers. Actively entering the booking engine shows they’ve seen enough to tempt them to engage initially, but now you need to tempt them that little bit further by actively retargeting.

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A user-friendly guest journey

Sort your booking process first of all. An essential part of this is reducing the number of steps it takes to complete. At Profitroom, ours is a 3-step process – and this delivers a conversion rate that’s between 25% and 36%. The industry standard is 20% so that’s a significant step up, and one that’s been achieved through integrated payment merchants and a fast, user-friendly checkout process – something that makes it harder for a guest to deliberate and subsequently back out.

A key element of our user-friendly guest journey often sees us incorporate a dedicated special offer landing page. Rather than simply discounting, this involves creating packages to include experiences, gift vouchers, upsell opportunities and more – helping to create something the guest can envisage and want to connect with. If they can picture themselves there, they’re far more likely to go ahead and book.

One thing that guests are always going to look for though is relevant information – therefore ensure you display this prominently and at the right time. Put all package costs on the landing page and the hotel card as well as relevant room info. This way, with all the necessary information present, they don’t have to go back to review anything – and are far more likely to carry on to completion. An eye-catching, informative landing page helps to increase ‘into booking engine’ traffic, known as IBE, which, when paired with a user-friendly, fast booking process, reduces the need for retargeting thanks to people booking in the first instance.

 Key retargeting methods

When guests do fail to complete a booking though there are three standard retargeting approaches: email retargeting, paid remarketing campaigns and on-screen prompts.

Email retargeting is essentially as it sounds – following up incomplete bookings via email. These are usually in the form of reminders, outlining details/availability, while sometimes they offer something new to tempt people back. The more personalised this is the better, with deals tailored to individual preferences having a lot more impact.

A good CRM system allows you to automate these reminders, providing you have their email address in the first place, so make sure you look to capture this as early in the booking process as possible. Offering targeted ‘loyalty’ discounts or offers to those who share their email is a great way of doing this.

 Achieving the requisite ‘personalisation’ is often done by segmenting your CRM database. Drilling down into certain demographics to create tailored packages for specific target markets can have a huge impact on remarketing success. Make the most of onsite amenities or provide a unique experience by partnering with local businesses who share similar audiences. These can be used to generate ‘storytelling’ a method of promotion that uses images, video and compelling copy to help guests really visualise a stay with you.

The next form, that of paid remarketing campaigns, essentially involves online advertising (Google ads, social media, etc.), which uses cookie tracking data to draw people back to the booking funnel. Well-appointed adverts popping up to remind you of a prospective hotel stay can tempt you back – much in the way that online retailers seem to follow you around to highlight incomplete purchases if you’ve browsed their website.

Thirdly, on-screen prompts are another key option. These are last-minute prompts to try and keep guests on the hotel page if they’re looking to exit. From a hotelier’s perspective, these are important as they help capture people who have hopped across to your website from an OTA to check out the legitimacy of your offering. Statistics show that 80% of potential bookers first visit your website having come across it via an OTA such as Booking.com. With this in mind, delivering an on-screen prompt as they attempt to return to the OTA’s page which highlights the benefits of booking direct (best price guaranteed, in-room extras etc) can help save on the cost of commissions. Incorporating a loyalty discount tool as part of this has further benefits, as it helps to build your database for email retargeting. This has been proven to enhance engagement, with increased open rates and conversion, and it’s something we use widely at Profitroom.

 Given the enormous proportion of guests who drop out of a booking, it’s essential you look to encourage them back. After all, they’ve shown interest in your offering so they’re effectively a warm lead. If you persuade 5%, 10% or even 15% back to book then that will make a massive difference to revenues and therefore the bottom line. Increasing profitability post-pandemic is crucial if hotels are to make up for the shortfall of the last few months – and retargeting bookings can play a large part in achieving that.

 Kirsty Beasley, is the Market Development Manager for Profitroom, a leading provider of hospitality marketing and direct booking solutions.

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