Blog

Optimizing hotel bookings: A checklist for hoteliers to solve booking inefficiencies

Parallax Image

In the competitive hospitality industry, reducing friction in the hotel booking process is a critical strategy for increasing revenue and profitability.

This friction refers to any hurdle or situation that hinders potential travelers from successfully completing a hotel reservation.

By mitigating these friction points, hotels can not only elevate their online reservation experience for customers but also significantly enhance their bookings.

This guide offers practical solutions to help you combat common sources of booking friction in your hotel distribution system, with the ultimate goal of raising your overall conversion rate

The Power of Analytics and Business Intelligence in the hotel reservation process

By leveraging data and analytics, hoteliers can gain critical insights into customer behavior and experiences, enabling them to make informed decisions, streamline operations, and ultimately enhance their financial performance.

Analytics play a pivotal role in identifying areas for improvement in your hotel distribution strategy, such as reducing operational costs, increasing guest satisfaction, and driving revenue growth.

Adopting a data-driven approach also equips hoteliers to remain competitive and agile in response to market fluctuations.

At the heart of any enterprise seeking to optimize their performance and secure long-term prosperity are analytics and business intelligence.

At the heart of any enterprise seeking to optimize their performance and secure long-term prosperity are analytics and business intelligence.

Lighthouse Distribution Insight gives detailed analytic insight into the demand feeding your Central Reservation System (CRS). It offers insights into the user experience, such as identifying errors that prevent potential customers from successfully completing a hotel reservation.

While upper funnel friction is beyond the scope of this piece, experience shows significant, and readily attainable, improvements can be made by addressing errors at the point of hotel reservation.

Some potential guests will, of course, simply retry. But not all will.

Errors encountered during the making of a reservation will have negative impacts including reduced customer brand perception; poor guest experience; missed opportunities to competitors; and costly and time-consuming manual contingency processes.

A step-by-step blueprint to manage booking inefficiencies in the hotel industry

A step-by-step blueprint to manage booking inefficiencies in the hotel industry

Now, let's take a deep dive into optimizing the booking experience with our Process Blueprint, a cycle of continuous improvement that's all about identifying errors in your hotel reservation system, categorizing them, fixing issues, checking how well the fix works, and providing ongoing monitoring.

1. Identify and categorize hotel booking errors

First things first, you’ll need to collect data from the hotel reservation system to discover where there might be obstacles during the booking process.

The Lighthouse Distribution Insight Booking Success Dashboard (see image below) shows you your Booking Process Health, in real-time. Once we've got those errors in hand, sort them into different buckets.

This will help you to figure out what's really causing the hiccups in the hotel booking process and which ones you should tackle first.

Categorizing the errors into different types helps you to understand the root causes of the issues and prioritize them.

Assigning a priority level to each error helps to ensure that the most critical (or most easily fixable) issues are addressed first.

  1. Collect data from the CRS to identify booking errors.

  2. Categorize the errors into different types.

  3. Assign a priority level to each category error based on its impact on the user experience and business operations.

The Lighthouse Distribution Insight Booking Success Dashboard shows hotel revenue management teams Booking Process Health, in real-time.

2. Strategies for fixing hotel booking friction

Now you can begin fixing the errors. Take the error categories from step 1 and hand them over to the right people in your team – the ones who have the magic touch for these specific issues.

It’s important that information, resources, metrics and strategies are readily shared, including access to Lighthouse Distribution Insight, so that they can really get into the nitty-gritty and figure out what's at the heart of the problem in your distribution strategy.

And of course, once you think you’ve resolved the point of friction in your reservation system, give it a test run to make sure everything's running smoothly.

For example, if a high number of errors are related to payment processing, consider switching to a more reliable payment gateway.

  1. Assign the error to the appropriate team member

  2. Drill-down from the categories to specific errors

  3. Provide the team member with the necessary information and resources to fix the error

3. Testing the effectiveness of hotel booking system fixes

Once the issue has been fixed, monitor the system to evaluate its effectiveness.

This can be accomplished using the powerful comparative reporting features of Lighthouse Distribution Insight, to highlight the situation before and after the potential fix.

For example, if the error was related to payment processing, test the payment gateway to ensure that payments are being processed correctly.

Then monitor the volume of payment errors over a sample period. If the fix is not effective, repeat the process of identifying and fixing the issue until the issue is resolved.

  1. Test the applied fix, by monitoring over a sample period.

4. Adopting continuous improvement in the Hotel Booking Process

Now, let's turn this into a cycle of getting better and better. You'll need to dive into the data you've collected from the hotel reservation system and look for any patterns or trends in those errors. It's like playing detective, but with data, giving you ample information to fine-tune your CRS/Booking Engine, helping to dodge errors in the future.

Continuously test and reprioritise the errors impacting bookings, repeating the cycle from step 1. Each time further refining the system to ensure that it is operating at peak efficiency.

  1. Continue to analyze the data collected from the system. Use this information to make improvements, and prevent future errors.

  2. Continuously test and refine the system to ensure that it is operating at peak efficiency.

Distribution Insight helps to identify booking errors and trends so that hoteliers can make the booking process more efficient

Examples of common causes of hotel booking errors and their practical solutions

1) Technical Errors:

These might be issues related to the hardware or software components of the system, such as bugs, glitches, or connectivity problems.

  • Example: Bookings made from certain regions fail intermittently, but frequently, with system errors. Drilling down to the specific errors identifies a significant number of 'timeout' errors.

  • Solution: Work with your IT team, or CRS provider, to optimize the system configuration. Or alternatively, stay up to date with booking trends and review how these markets are served, with more reliable and stable infrastructure.

2) Data Errors:

Refers to any inaccuracies or inconsistencies in the information provided by the guest, or stored within the booking system, such as unexpected date formats, incorrect room rates, availability, or guest details.

  • Examples: The system is unable to process a booking because of incorrect data, such as missed guest detail or incorrect stay duration.

  • Solution: Work with channel partners to implement data validation rules to ensure that all required data is entered correctly. Provide pre-submit messages to guide the user in correcting any errors.

3) User Errors:

While perhaps considered a subset of data error, such as selecting the wrong dates, entering incorrect information, users errors can cover any number of issues disrupting the completion of the booking process,

  • Example: The user enters the wrong dates for their booking, for example in European format rather than the expected US format.

  • Solution: Work with your partners to ensure their user interface guides potential clients, with intuitive controls. Provide clear instructions and guidance to the user to prevent errors. Implement error checking to catch common user errors before they cause problems. If on the day bookings are not permitted, either make this policy clear, or perhaps change the policy.

4) Invalid Rates / Stale Cache:

When outdated information is displayed to potential guests due to a booking site's cache not being updated in real-time, it can lead to booking errors and discrepancies between the actual availability and rates of the property and what is being displayed to the guest.

  • Example: A downstream partner is offering rates which are no longer valid.

  • Solution: Work with channel partners to ensure their cache of product data is in step with currently available hotel room inventory at the point of reservation.

Ensuring a seamless hotel booking process is paramount to enhancing customer satisfaction

Summary

In the dynamic world of hospitality, ensuring a seamless hotel booking process is paramount to enhancing customer satisfaction and, in turn, your bottom line.

This guide has provided you with a blueprint to identify and rectify errors in your hotel reservation system, thereby reducing friction and increasing booking success rates.

The cyclical process of identifying, categorizing, fixing, and monitoring errors, followed by continuous improvement, is key to optimizing your hotel booking experience.

In ensuring your reservation system/booking engine is operating at peak performance at the all-important reservation stage, providing your guests with a seamless booking experience, you can reduce booking friction, enhance guest satisfaction, and ultimately increase your hotel's revenue.

By leveraging the power of Lighthouse Distribution Insight, you can easily track the effectiveness of your distribution strategy in real-time, allowing you to make informed, data-driven decisions.

The end goal is to ensure a smooth and enjoyable booking experience for your potential guests even before they check in.

About Distribution Insight

Distribution Insight (formerly Trio Analytics) is a powerful business intelligence and analytics platform providing hospitality professionals with the insights they need to make informed data-driven decisions. With real-time data, user-friendly dashboards and reports, and deep dive "train of thought" analysis, Distribution Insight enables hotel chains to gain a deeper understanding of demand and their Central Reservation System performance.

Beyond booking success, Distribution Insight includes a host of other features including threshold-based alerting, user-enabled report building, an intuitive interface, and powerful built in analytics capabilities. Lighthouse Distribution Insight is the perfect solution for any hotel chain looking to stay ahead of the competition.

Start solving distribution inefficiencies at your properties with Distribution Insight