On-Line Booking Business Case for Return on Investment TourismTechnology.com
Bill Bill runs Trinity Escape, a small cottage property on Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula. He offers a dozen oceanfront cottages from June through September. He is usually booked solid in July and August. Bill has had a website for four years that was built by his brother-in-law. He cannot update it himself so every 4-6 months Bill pays to make any changes that are needed. He receives about 30 email and phone inquiries per week, but this number has dropped off over the past year or two, even though travelers are already starting to plan their summer vacations.
Jane One such traveler is Jane from Calgary who has just clicked onto Bill’s website. Jane is flying home in the summer to visit her family and is planning a girl’s weekend away with her sisters. She went online and Googled “cottages for rent in Newfoundland” but found no good results. She then Googled “tourism Newfoundland” and found a list of properties on the provincial tourism website, which she is going through one at a time. Jane likes the location on the ocean and the cottages look comfortable. She needs to bring her sister’s dog but it takes her awhile to find the policy information. It’s a bit ambiguous as to which cottages will allow dogs but she is willing to take a chance. The cottage fits her budget and she is ready to book. After scanning around for online booking, she realizes Bill doesn’t offer it. Jane hits the “back” button and returns to the provincial tourism website. She may be back if she doesn’t find another property that is suitable -- and if she remembers the site.
Jane Jane clicks the next link in the list and she arrives at the site of Gary’s Oceanside Cottages, 25 km down the road from Bill’s. Jane quickly finds an ideal cottage. She stares in awe at a photo of the sun setting over the ocean, as seen from the deck of the cottage, and salivates at the homemade raspberry scones, crème fraiche and coffee that are delivered each morning. She sees that the cottage is available when she is visiting. Jane is sold and clicks the Book this Cottage button adjacent to the room description. Jane is so excited she calls her sisters.
Gary Gary is relaxing by the pool at his condo in Bradenton, FL. He spent the day deep sea fishing. He checks his email and sees that cottage 8 was booked online for a 2-night package in the second week in June. That brings his occupancy for that month up to 74%. He sends Jane a short email to thank her for her business and asks if they have any special requirements for their breakfast or her sister’s dog.
Bill Later... Its mid-June and Bill is shaking his head. For the first time in 20 years he still has vacancies for July. He looks around his property – his gardens are in full bloom and the new dock he built over the winter is just waiting for visitors to launch the kayaks. “Maybe I should lower my rates and put an ad in the paper?” he asks himself.
Close the sale online Action Plan
Close the sale online The urgency to enable online booking on your websites has never been greater. • Travelers’ expectations are high and will continue to rise as they move online in greater numbers • It is no longer enough to simply have a website. • The ability to close the sale online is a necessity There is first mover advantage to be had for operators that act quickly
Industry Trends • 1/3 of Internet users now research and book travel online • Online travel purchases are set to grow between 20 – 30% in the next 3 years • By 2010, 62% of travelers will book online directly with the supplier • By 2011, 38% of all travel revenue for that year will be generated by online bookings ($128 million) • Travel agents and “middlemen” are used with decreasing frequency as travelers want to deal directly with the operator.
Current visitors The largest consumers of online travel • Primarily adults aged 25 – 34 • Slightly more apt to be women than men The fastest growing segment of online travelers: • Baby boomers • Currently a quarter of online travelers are aged 55 and older
Future Demands 16 – 24 year olds (“Generation @”) are the second fastest growing group of travelers • First generation to have had access to computers and the internet their entire lives • It is how they communicate, socialize and live • Extremely web savvy • Key influencers today These are your future customers – will you be ready for them?
Benefits of Selling Online • It’s an investment • Post-sale opportunity • Reduce off-season and off-hour worry • Manage cancellations better • Ease of data collection and reporting • Extend your busy season • Reduce abandonment rates
Online booking has definitely changed the way we do business... These days approximately 80% of our inquiries come in by email (from our online reservation system) which means that we are able to respond quickly which in turn equates with definite bookings. - Judy Pye, Owner, Shipwright Inn www.shipwrightinn.com “ Benefits of Selling Online Increase sales, reduce costs and increase customer satisfaction Embrace the reality and invest accordingly to stay competitive locally, regionally, and internationally
Current situation Incidence of Travel Reservations/Booking On-line, 2000–2005 Among on-line travel planners Among on-line frequent travelers Among on-line travelers Among travelers Source: Travel Industry Association of America
TRAVEL PLANNING AND BOOKING CYCLE INSPIRATION RESEARCH NARROWING OPTIONS BOOKING Travelers buying cycle Consumers will only book on a website they like and trust! Buying Cycle Inspiration Research Narrowing of options Booking
Current situation How travelers research accommodations? • Choose a destination • Search for accommodations • Review multiple websites • Choose an accommodation whose website answers all their questions and allows them to book online You cannot afford to have people judge your property poorly based on your website.
Meeting online expectations There is a gap between consumers and Operators perception • Users rate website experience an average of 6/10 • Operators rate their own websites 9/10 Key conclusions: • Many elements consumers want are not found on majority of Operator websites. • We have to close the gap quickly or travelers will go elsewhere
We had online booking enabled on the provincial tourism website portal, but it wasn’t until weintegrated it into our website that we really started to receive online bookings. – Judy MacDonald, Owner of the Barachois Inn www.barachoisinn.com “ Meeting online expectations Integrating online booking with your website • All messaging and links should try to direct the visitor to your online booking form • Place “Book your reservation online now” links wherever appropriate.
Meeting online expectations The rest of your website should be updated to include • High quality photos of each room • Amenities • Local attractions • Directions, maps and distance calculators • Policies, and legal information • Real-time room availability and room rate on the same page as the room details • Weather information • 360 room views or virtual tours • Reviews and testimonials
Meeting online expectations Your marketing materials should also be updated to promote availability of online booking • Rack cards • VIC information • Business cards • Invoices and letterhead • Email signature This will lead to increased traffic to your website and ultimately more business for you.
Calculating ROI It is important to measure the productivity of your website if you want to identify where to improve its performance. • The most important measure of success is: Conversion rate = Total website bookings / Total unique visitors To increase the conversion rate: • Increase the total amount of traffic to your website (search engine optimization or other marketing efforts) • Optimize your website content and structure
We had online booking enabled on the provincial tourism website portal, but it wasn’t until weintegrated it into our website that we really started to receive online bookings. – Judy MacDonald, Owner of the Barachois Inn www.barachoisinn.com “ Conclusion Online is how your customers want to do business with you. If your website does not allow travelers to find the correct information quickly and easily, and to complete the transaction online, travelers will look and book elsewhere. You cannot wait to improve your website – the travel industry and your consumers will not wait for you!
TourismTechnology.com Contact Information Craig FoleyTechnology Resource CoordinatorHospitality Newfoundland and Labrador(709) 722-2224 Ext. email@example.comMichelle SearsTechnology Resource CoordinatorTourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia(902) firstname.lastname@example.org Jamie Vander KooiTechnology Resource CoordinatorTourism Industry Association of PEI - TIAPEI(902) email@example.com Beth AshtonTechnology Resource CoordinatorTourism Industry Association of New Brunswick(506) firstname.lastname@example.org