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Put a Stop to Booking Abandonment (by Karen Valeria Sandoval)


"A second chance is all hoteliers need to get back in the game." By saying that, I am referring that the staggering numbers hotel websites get from the horrors of booking abandonment, which can be better understood as "cart abandonment." There could be various reasons why guests decide to leave a hotel website during the booking process. For example, a consumer may feel unnecessary to continue browsing in the hopes for a better price later; or the hotel website lacks the information that the customer is looking for. If your hotel has ever experienced book abandonment by consumers, remember that a second chance does exist! That is, with the help of 'retargeting'.

Why and where is the abandonment?

No business wants to be abandoned, especially when it was over something as small as a payment issue on the website. It has been found that about 81% of guests desert the travel booking with the following reasons: 

39% - Browsing around and wanting a wider variety through more research.
37% - Prices are too high for them and want to compare one hotel to another.
21% - They need to check with other travelers.
13% - The booking process on the website and the checkout process are too complicated.
9% - There are technical issues on the website, or they lose connection.
7% - There are payment issues and/or the lack of options from the hotel.

As far as what part of the process when the customers commit booking abandonment is concerned, studies found that as soon as a price is shown, 53% of people leave. At 26%, people leave the website when asked for any sort of personal details. While 21% of people abandon the website when asked for payment information. I believe simplicity is the trick to prevent the horror of abandonment.

Let's bring the guests back!

There are three options that have been proven to work; some work better than others of course. These ideas include e-mail retargeting, on-screen prompts, and paid remarketing campaigns. All three, in my opinion, have the same concept --- to simplify the process for customers. If a customer abandons a website, paid advertising could remind them of what they could have missed out. If the customer is still not fully convinced, then offering a "secret % off" (a percentage of discount) as an incentive to stay can be helpful. 

Another alternative that could land more people on a web page with no abandonment on the first visit is by using the hotel booking apps, such as HotelTonight, Booking.com, Expedia, TripAdvisor, Kayak, Airbnb, and Trivago. The more straightforward the process is, the better deals you offer, and the more promotions a business gives out, the more likely the customers would stay within the website. 

Likewise, e-mail retargeting is a way to decrease your booking abandonment. In fact, it is one of the most effective methods, with a 30% conversion rate. E-mail retargeting is a persuasive method to have guests come back to seal the deal. The only "trick" of this method is to obtain the e-mail addresses of the customers, possibly as soon as the very beginning of the booking process. 

Later, the webmaster can send an e-mail to the customers, asking them how the booking process was or if they are ready to complete the process. By doing so, the customers will be more inclined to finish the booking with the hotel. It is also suggested to send a few e-mails from the time they begin the process. The first e-mail should probably be sent within 3 hours of abandonment. If no action is taken, send another e-mail in the following day. If no action has been taken by then, send the last e-mail to the guest a day after. After this point, it is highly recommended not to send any more e-mails so the guest will not feel overwhelmed with the follow-up emails.

To be more effective in encouraging customers to complete the booking they have left out, it is important to include their name, a discount, or a complimentary drink in the e-mail. Any kind of background or picture to spice up the image of your hotel will also be helpful in keeping the customer intrigued.

How would you use your second chance?

Booking abandonment is common, but it does not have to be for your hotel. Customers may feel the need to look for something better or less complicated. Your hotel can demonstrate that the second chance can be worthy and rewarding. During the time when you plan the techniques, decide what method(s) work the best for you. If you think that on-screen prompts would work better than e-mail retargeting, then prove the customers so. If your re-targeting method is simple and catchy, then you will begin to see numbers go up. Use apps as a gateway to market your hotel more. All these strategies can work if you commit to your second chance. The final question that is then left standing is: how will you use your second chance?

About the Author

My name is Karen Valeria Sandoval. I was born and raised in the city of Loma Linda, California. Less than four years ago, I decided to further my education in Hospitality Management at California State Polytechnic University Pomona. With my hospitality degree, I wish to work at an upper-upscale or a luxury hotel in Southern California. Thanks to the Disney College Program, I have expanded my knowledge and experience in guest relations and teamwork. During my time off from school, I enjoy traveling, blogging, and doing yoga. One day, I hope to own a house near the beach with a blue-eyed Siberian Husky.

Resources.
http://blog.netaffinity.com/re-targeting-how-to-bring-back-guests-who-abandon/
https://blog.salecycle.com/stats/booking-abandonment-why-people-abandon-their-booking/
http://blog.netaffinity.com/booking-abandonment-email-retargeting/
http://www.essence.com/2016/06/29/10-best-apps-travel-deals

* The picture of booking was downloaded from https://blog.salecycle.com/strategies/abandoned-booking-emails-10toptips/

This discussion was edited and approved by Yujia Lian and Linchi Kwok. 

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