How to fix hotel booking abandonment

Booking abandonment and customer acquisition costs are both major challenges for the hotel industry today. The average hotel spends about $30 on capturing a lead and over $200 on customer acquisition.
  • 90% of hotel website visitors browse around and never take action
  • 82% of those who do take action end up abandoning their booking

The numbers are just staggering. How do hotels fix it?

Why is abandonment so high in the hotel industry?

Research tells us that customers visit about 4-5 unique websites and spend 30 minutes of research on each before making an educated booking decision.

The majority of this time is spent on reading reviews.

As data shows, a large percentage initiates the booking but does not complete it. They leave the hotel website to compare with other hotels and alternatives. At this point reviews, video and community engagements start to play a key role for prospective customers.

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One part of this process that we have to look at in context regarding abandonment is the customer intent when they arrive at a hotel website.

Research tells us that almost 90 percent of customer intent relates to making a reservation, finding deals and specials, and looking for hotel information.

Again, hotels spend $200 on customer acquisition and 90 percent of customer intent is on point, and still, almost all of this intent is lost in the funnel.

I understand customers spend time researching, comparing prices, checking with their friends and peers and other things that cause them to temporarily abandon the hotel’s website.

And I understand that alternative booking channels and review sites will impact the customer’s booking decision.

But a hotel can’t just leave these numbers of abandonment on the table unless that is your intention.

What is the source of this hotel challenge? Some possible contributing factors:

  1. Online travel agencies
  2. Review channels
  3. Price
  4. Complex booking processes
  5. Social media
  6. Technical issues
  7. Lack of options
  8. Annoying fees
  9. The hotel website is just used for research
  10. Other innovative alternatives (home-sharing etc.)
  11. Mobile trends
  12. New technology
  13. Time and resources

With all resources and responses, I get challenges that often appear within one or more of these categories.

Here is the deal – NONE of these is the real source of abandonment!

The real source of abandonment is that there is a leak in your hotel’s digital marketing funnel.

Fixing the hotel booking abandonment leak

Hotels have to stop focusing on what they can’t control.

We did see in 2018 that the #BookDirect campaign created positive momentum for hotels. And we also did see some hotels initiate celebrity campaigns with great success.

Both these campaigns were not very complex, but when we put them in a funnel that focuses on a relevant context, they become very effective and successful.

As hoteliers, we have to start thinking outside the box.

Data from research tells us is that booking is a process that is impacted by every micro-moment in the customer journey.

With digital marketing funnels, hotels have a process that focuses on educating, engaging, and embracing the savvy consumer who experiences the art of booking in new ways.

Booking ConversionAnd we as hoteliers have to take an active part in this process. Booking is not just one simple act.

Customers today experience and take into consideration multiple micro-moments throughout their journey.

Hotels need to not only ensure that all your digital engagement with potential customers are authentic, transparent, and valuable, you also need to have a correctly working digital marketing funnel in place to get the most out of your marketing efforts.

We have to listen, care, connect and build relationships that result in lifetime customers. This is what brand like Apple does, and now we see Airbnb is doing.

Start to recover abandoned bookings

Change is about mindset and a cultural shift for hotels.

We can’t fix everything overnight; it starts with implementing small effective chunks in your hotel’s digital marketing funnel.

One aspect that is very important for hotels in this context is to understand is that the cost of re-engaging “lost customers” is 5x less expensive than acquiring new leads and driving traffic.

And with 90 percent of customer intent favorable for your hotel, there is no reason to waste either time or money.

Fixing your hotel booking abandonment is a process where you take smart actions in the front-end to see positive results in the back-end.

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