Online booking for hotels is booming. According to reports, 65% of same-day reservations are now made on smartphones. And, if you think OTAs always grab the lion's share, the fact that hotel brand websites account for over 64% of all bookings will give some hope to hoteliers drowning in commission bills.
OK, so you may not be the Marriott or Hilton, but one fact remains - guests expect an easy, convenient booking experience they can conduct anywhere and on any device. If you offer that on your own website, the likelihood is they'll book direct.
And we all want that, don't we?
With this in mind, we set about completely redesigning the online booking system for Welcome Anywhere Plus. Existing users of our hotel booking system will soon receive a free upgrade, but we wanted to take this opportunity to provide an insight into the changes we've made and the decision process that goes into creating an online booking system that will work for the new generation of hotel guests.
A new look
Design is subjective. But user interfaces? Not so much. In fact, they should always, without question, be simple and utterly intuitive from the moment you lay your eyes on them. It is for that reason our new online booking system is built solely with the guest in mind. Technical jargon was denied entry and we've ensured there are no rabbit holes down which one may fall.
The look and feel of the new booking process can be customised just enough to make it slot seamlessly into your existing website, but not so much that it can be left a shadow of its former self (we've seen this happen far too often with other online booking systems that have been tinkered with). The result is clean, addictive and entirely in keeping with your brand.
The example below features our logos, but the background, header and footer can be fully customised with your own imagery:
Every booking starts with an arrival date. But what if the guest wants to really fine-tune their stay? A ground floor room, perhaps? Or maybe a dog-friendly double with a shower? With the new fully-customisable preferences system, they can do just that:
As you can see above, after choosing the arrival date, the guest will be asked to enter their length of stay and the number of people coming, followed by any room preferences they may have. Simple!
One step at a time
We've retained the step-by-step booking process in order to avoid throwing everything at your guests in one, big, confusing screen of text, drop-down options and buttons. We've stuck by this method since 2003, because we know it works. The new system has just four steps, and the guest's current task is clearly highlighted:
That'll get them booking direct!
Easy group bookings
We'll avoid calling it a shopping basket, but your guests will be able to easily create group bookings and keep track of the total cost of their reservation with the new 'Your booking' section:
When adding a room to a booking, the new system will ensure there is no confusion over the chosen rate:
Beautiful room pictures and descriptions
A picture says a thousand words, and will likely gain you thousands of direct guests. In our new online booking system, room pictures show off the best your property has to offer, and you can add detailed room descriptions, highlights and amenities. Tell your prospective guests what makes your establishment special!
As you'll note above, we've also included the ability to clearly display when a room type and rate combination is of the premium variety.
You simply won't sell a room without a clear call-to-action, and we've made sure every button is obvious and eminently clickable:
Options, options, options
If there's one thing you want to shower your potential guests with, it's optional extras. Boost your bottom line by offering more than just a bed for the night:
Get to know your guests
Where did they hear about you? What's the reason for their stay? What else do they want? Defining and getting to know your guests has never been easier, nor more valuable:
Simple, convenient sign-in
The trick to avoiding repeat agency commissions is to enable past guests to re-book quickly the next time they want to stay. Our new online booking system lets them do just that by signing in to retrieve their details and expedite the booking confirmation process:
When is it available?
Soon! Hold tight, as we'll be sending more information your way once a release date is confirmed. Next week, we'll be taking a look at the ease with which hoteliers can keep their online booking system up-to-date and fresh, directly within the Welcome Anywhere hotel booking system.
n.b. The screenshots shown and features mentioned in this blog post are representative of a system that is still in development and are therefore subject to change at launch.