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Hospitality sites struggle to convert on booking intent

08/18/2009| 9:01:56 AM|

A new study by iPerceptions includes an overview of the biggest barriers to online booking, showing that hospitality websites are still struggling to convert on booking intent.

A new study by iPerceptions includes an overview of the biggest barriers to online booking, showing that hospitality websites are still struggling to convert on booking intent. According to the study, only 60% of would-be bookers actually completed a reservation during the course of their visits.

iPerceptions, a provider of web-focused Voice of Customer analytics, today made available the Hospitality Industry Report Q2 2009. The report analyzes real-time feedback from more than 123,000 visitors on hundreds of hospitality sites to identify the most important issues and trends facing the online hospitality industry as it strives to improve bookings, customer satisfaction and loyalty. The report gives hospitality marketers and site operators intelligence that can be used to optimize the online experience, providing:

- Specific insight into who is coming to hospitality sites, why they are there, and which marketing and advertising channels are most effective at delivering site traffic.
- User group comparisons, including business travelers, leisure travelers and first-time visitors, as well as different purposes of visit such as: make a reservation, research and compare rates, and find hotel information.

- An introduction to the iPSI (iPerceptions Satisfaction Index) and new benchmark data on customer satisfaction, both overall and broken down by 10 key attributes, including relevancy, convenience, and ease of use.

Key findings from the study include an overview of the biggest barriers to online booking, showing that hospitality websites are still struggling to convert on booking intent. Only 60% of would-be bookers actually completed a reservation during the course of their visits. While cost sensitivity plays a role in this drop-off, the report data suggests that the barriers to conversion have more to do with usability and technical hurdles. Over 40% of would-be bookers reported that they abandoned the booking process because of a usability problem with the booking engine or because of a technical or navigation issue in another section of the website.

Other key findings include:

Low satisfaction among researchers and rate shoppers: The overall industry score for Bottom Line — the attribute that measures cost sensitivity — continued to be the lowest-scoring attribute, with a score of 6.72. With gas costs and unemployment rising, hospitality marketers must be more inventive with their pricing and promotion strategies. Otherwise, they will continue to struggle to satisfy researchers and rate shoppers, who collectively posted the lowest iPSI score among the leading visitor intent segments in Q2.

Customer satisfaction correlated strongly with visitor loyalty: Although they composed close to half of the visitor population, first-timers collectively posted an iPSI of only 6.85, compared to a score of 7.56 for frequent visitors. Hospitality sites are struggling to satisfy this drive-by traffic; search engines drove the most visitors (56%), so aligning site content with the top search keywords is of paramount importance.

"Although the hospitality industry is a pioneer and one of the largest online industries, there is much room for improvement,” said Claude Guay, CEO of iPerceptions. "Social media and peer networks are changing the way consumers find and interact with hospitality brands online. The Hospitality Industry Report gives marketers actionable insights to improve their sites and the way they engage — and convert — their online consumers.”

Data contained in the Hospitality Industry Report for Q2 2009 represents aggregated information obtained from enterprise solution webValidator™ and free 4Q studies deployed on the websites of leading hospitality brands. This industry-specific database accretes data from more than 123,000 visitors.

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