Bill Bill runs Trinity Escape, a small cottage property on Newfoundlands 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 Bills website. Jane is flying home in the summer to visit her family and is planning a girls 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 sisters dog but it takes her awhile to find the policy information. Its 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 doesnt offer it. Jane hits the back button and returns to the provincial tourism website. She may be back if she doesnt 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 Garys Oceanside Cottages, 25 km down the road from Bills. 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 sisters dog.
Bill 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. Later...
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 Current Visitors Future Demands
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 Its 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
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 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
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 Current situation
Travelers buying cycle Buying Cycle Inspiration Research Narrowing of options Booking Consumers will only book on a website they like and trust! TRAVEL PLANNING AND BOOKING CYCLE INSPIRATION RESEARCH NARROWING 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.
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
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. We had online booking enabled on the provincial tourism website portal, but it wasnt until we integrated it into our website that we really started to receive online bookings. – Judy MacDonald, Owner of the Barachois Inn www.barachoisinn.comwww.barachoisinn.com
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.
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
Calculating ROI Current Situation SCENARIOCHANGE BOOKINGS / UNIQUE VISITORS CONVERSION RATE % No online booking capability Current situation 20 / 1500 1.33%
Calculating ROI Enable Online Booking SCENARIOCHANGE BOOKINGS / UNIQUE VISITORS CONVERSION RATE % No online booking capability Current situation 20 / 1500 1.33% Enable online booking 30% increase in bookings 26 / 15001.73%
Calculating ROI Upgrading Content SCENARIOCHANGE BOOKINGS / UNIQUE VISITORS CONVERSION RATE % No online booking capability Current situation 20 / 1500 1.33% Enable online booking 30% increase in bookings 26 / 15001.73% Enhance room description content, improved photography 20% increase in bookings 31 / 15002%
Calculating ROI Search Engine Optimization SCENARIOCHANGE BOOKINGS / UNIQUE VISITORS CONVERSION RATE % No online booking capability Current situation 20 / 15001.33% Enable online booking 30% increase in bookings 26 / 15001.73% Enhance room description content, improved photography 20% increase in bookings 31 / 15002% Optimize keywords to improve search engine rankings, improve website navigation 10% increase in visitors, 10% increase in bookings 48 / 22002.18%
Calculating ROI Do Nothing SCENARIOCHANGE BOOKINGS / UNIQUE VISITORS CONVERSION RATE % No online booking capability Current situation 20 / 1500 1.33% Decide to do nothing, travelers leave for competitor websites 30% decrease in bookings 14 / 15000.93% Your site is identified as one that doesnt offer online booking and excluded from property searches 25% decrease in visitors; conversion stays the same 11 / 11250.93%
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! We had online booking enabled on the provincial tourism website portal, but it wasnt until we integrated it into our website that we really started to receive online bookings. – Judy MacDonald, Owner of the Barachois Inn www.barachoisinn.comwww.barachoisinn.com
TourismTechnology.com Contact Information Jamie Vander Kooi Technology Resource Coordinator Tourism Industry Association of PEI - TIAPEI (902) 566-5008 firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Beth Ashton Technology Resource Coordinator Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick (506) 451-0173 firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Craig Foley Technology Resource Coordinator Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador (709) 722-2224 Ext. 32 firstname.lastname@example.org Michelle Sears Technology Resource Coordinator Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia (902) 423-4480 email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com