The Perpetual Debate Over The Hotel Booking Bar
September 21, 2016 9:48am
By Larry Mogelonsky, MBA, P. Eng. (www.lma.ca)
Every marketing manager you employ will tell you a version of the same story: Your website needs to have a ‘Booking Bar’ prominently stapled onto the home page and every page thereafter – big, flashy and impossible to ignore.
The central concept is that your site visitors will be compelled to immediately interact with the banner to see what spaces are available, compare guestrooms and even select value-added options to enhance their stays. Another assumption is that site visitors are just too naïve or blind to click a smaller button that says ‘Reservations’ and that revenues will be lost as a result.
This mandatory element, espoused by most of the leading hospitality web design agencies, may in fact be a big mistake. My belief is that this is one of the key reasons why hotel property websites are losing ground to the OTAs and Airbnb. Before you call me a heretic and bombard my email with contrarian opinions, hear me out.
In Homo sapiens’ primeval days, we were all hunters and gatherers. Survival was far from guaranteed. It was hard work to bring home even a morsel of food for the family. Men would go out on two-to-three day hunts at a time, starving themselves throughout, while the women would forage the lands of undomesticated (that is, low yielding), and often poisonous, ‘edible’ plants. Any anthropologist will contend that this brutal cycle persisted for over four million years from the dawn of Australopithecus right up to the start of the agricultural revolution roughly ten thousand years ago. For an erudite and thorough read on the matter, I recommend, amongst many others, Jared Diamond’s Pulitzer Prize winner, “Guns, Germs and Steel.”
While humanity has only had a consistent supply of food for a few millennia, evolution acts on a much slower timetable, and our primitive hunter instincts still persist to this day. Ingrained in our DNA is a foundation of working hard to get results, achieving satisfaction through said work and being suspicious of things that come ‘too easily’.
And this animal instinct hides in plain sight in our modern society; we go ‘bargain hunting’ at malls for the best deals while others peruse vintage stores for that perfect find. Indeed, there is a stronger sense of emotional satisfaction when you search through all the available options – whether it’s clothing, cars, restaurant reservations or hotel rooms – and select what you deem ideal to your situation only after prudent deliberation.
So, why are we as hoteliers depriving their guests of the ability to hunt by making it too easy to buy? Guestrooms are very different standing in the cafeteria line and choosing between browned beef and soylent green – they are highly emotional purchases. And the more emotional input you have, the greater the need for ‘the hunt’ and any consequent satisfaction. In the process of simplifying this decision-making pathway, we are mitigating our probability of success, both in terms of bookings and guest satisfaction.
For contrast, I would encourage you to visit the fantastic site created by Airbnb. Here it’s ‘game on’ from the minute you start your search. You start with a broad location and then slowly chisel away and refine your options in what if often referred to a ‘sense of discovery’. Not only do you have to search through a wide range of different facilities and qualifications (styles, location and price points), but once you select a potential accommodation, you also have to peruse the reviews and owner comments.
All this to ensure that you buy fits just right. In other words, reaching that final purchase requires a lot of relatively hard work for what’s supposed to be a leisure activity, and as such it makes the journey all the more rewarding.
With this, I’ll conclude with a self-evident question stemming from my anthropological argument above: how is your website expressing this sense of discovery? How are you making consumers ‘hunt’ for your guestroom purchases?
This article may not be reproduced without the expressed permission of the author.
Editors note: To discuss business challenges or to discuss speaking engagements please contact Larry directly.
Tags: larry mogelonsky
One of the world’s most published writers in hospitality, Larry Mogelonsky is the owner of Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited and founder of LMA Communications Inc., an award-winning marketing agency based in Toronto. His experience encompasses hotel properties around the world, both branded and independent, and ranging from luxury and boutique to select-service. Larry is also a principal of Cayuga Hospitality Consultants and is on several boards for companies focused on hotel technology. His work includes three books “Are You an Ostrich or a Llama?” (2012), “Llamas Rule” (2013) and “Hotel Llama” (2015). You can reach Larry at email@example.com to discuss hotel business challenges or to book speaking engagements.
Contact: Larry Mogelonsky
The Solution To Industry Stagnation Is Innovation
InFISHigate This Underrated Menu Choice
Looking Ahead Nine Months For Hotel Technology
The Need for Hotel Careers in the Face of the Gig Economy
Is Technological Ageism an Issue in Hospitality?
What’s Your Opinion on Tattoos in the Hotel Workplace
Making Wine and Chocolate Pairings Work for You
Be Wary Of Double Deviations This Year
Upgrading Your Beverages Also Means New Glassware
The New Food for 2017 is ‘Starchy’ Fruit
This Year Means Screen Domination
New Year’s Resolution – Read One Industry Article Every Day
Hotel Online’s Top Read News for 2016
Cider Is Back In Style So Don't Miss Out!
Being Flawless Doesn't Stop Your Hotel From Being Boring
What Hotels Can Learn From Walmart
Ten Considerations To Fix Your Property’s Balance Sheet
With Google, Second Place Is The First Loser
Rethink What You Call A Lifestyle Hotel
Do You Have A Suite Tooth?
Please login or register to post a comment.