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Is your online reservations program daunting, sending guests away?

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JBloggs

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Or is it forcing them to call as they have to click click click so many times before they get to the online form?
Then the form seems overwhelming to them?
Remember the old Owl and the Tootsie Pop ad on tv? Let me rephrase by saying "How many clicks does it take to make a booking?"
Is it real time or do they go through all of these steps only to find a request at the end?
K.I.S.S. needs apply.
I am going to go and see how many steps on a couple of websites I know...
  1. Homepage
  2. Our Rooms
  3. View Availability/Book This Room
  4. I click on the avail calendar on a date that shows an amount $195
  5. Now I have a Check Avail screen again - smaller version asking me to check avail
  6. Now I have a page of avail rooms (even tho I already clicked on the date with the room open at $195) and I have totally forgotten which room it was (I have no idea what name is what)
  7. Click here to reserve your room (this is FINALLY the reservation page fyi) where there is a ton of small print...add ons, credit card, addresses, phone #'s, additional information, and more policies
  8. I pick up the phone and call...I am worn out. I am a young geezer. :)
There ya go it took 7 screens to book my one night stay. I didn't complete it so there may have been more after I submitted it, or it may have ended up a request and I might have to wait for the real confirmation - didn't go that far to find out.
 

JBloggs

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I am looking at my own as well - not just others. I have a page with specials on it they get to before they click book their room. Seems to be an extra step but it is where they collect some discounts.
 

Copperhead

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JB, I hear ya. but this is common on almost every hotel and B&B listing, so it really doen't matter the system you are using. It is not the quickest for the guest - calling is! And they get some personal attention too! That sometimes is the clincher anyway...they saw the pictures of the place but hearing that kind sounding voice on the other line closes the deal.
I checked my site and it took 5 clicks to complete the form, one could have been eliminated if they went straight to my booking link on the home page instead of going to the rooms page first. I timed my visit, to complete the booking (except finalizing by submitting) and it took me 5 minutes. This is me, on my own site, knowing what I am doing, which room I want, what info will be asked, and information at hand. And not reading all the extra package add ons I have listed.
It is easier just to call. And that is just what I did for a little vacation we are taking, looked at the site, really knew what I wanted, then I picked up the phone and dialed....
 

Don Draper

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It is never easier for me to call...I would click a thousand times before picking up the phone.
 

JBloggs

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I never call. If the photos are not inviting, I move on. If the info is not there, I move on. If the reservation form is tricky or complicated I move on. If the prices are not readily identifiable, I move on.
This is not just me, this is the way it is.
I say it all the time, and I will say it again, you do not know the bookings you lose, those who click onto another website and book over there. You simply do not know, you meaning - me, you and everyone else in this business. If you think online reservations are second to calling then there is a huge gaping hole - since your primary marketing is online, then it is only common sense that the bookings would be online as well.
 

Morticia

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I'll agree that it is a long process. If you don't want a room on the date the calendar shows immediately, you have to go and select the date. And then you have to know where to click to make the reservation and then you get all the rooms that are available, altho the room you 'selected' is at the top. Fill in how many days, how many people and then you get the form for your info. THEN you get to scroll thru the policies. And finally you get a page that says 'thank you for your reservation, we'll be contacting you shortly.'
I like your layout better because the room is always right there where you can see what you're booking.
But I think all of them are a pain.
However, the original plan here for online booking was to get those folks who want to book when we're not here or we're asleep. It's for them, not for the folks who are calling when it's 'business hours.'
I just had it happen in person the other day that a guest looking over my shoulder saw the calendar and said, 'Oh, good all the rooms are open!' No, all the rooms were booked. I think I need to see if that can be changed somehow to show a huge X in the box instead of just blanking it out. 5 years in and guests still don't understand the coding, even with a legend. So that causes people to move on, if they don't understand what they're looking at.
I think hotel bookings are easier because they don't care if you know the policies or if you want add ons, but you also can't look at a calendar, you can only look at a date. And I will give up immediately if I can't see a calendar showing what rooms are open on what dates.
OK, I take that back, I can look at a calendar on a hotel website and there are pages of information to scroll thru before making a rez. It LOOKS neater because there are no photos. But there is also a disclaimer that you may not get the room you want. And there was a LOT of clicking to get to the calendar.
 

Morticia

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I do have one of those 'you are here in the process' bars across the top. So, you can see how much more misery there is left to go.
 

Morticia

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I'll agree that it is a long process. If you don't want a room on the date the calendar shows immediately, you have to go and select the date. And then you have to know where to click to make the reservation and then you get all the rooms that are available, altho the room you 'selected' is at the top. Fill in how many days, how many people and then you get the form for your info. THEN you get to scroll thru the policies. And finally you get a page that says 'thank you for your reservation, we'll be contacting you shortly.'
I like your layout better because the room is always right there where you can see what you're booking.
But I think all of them are a pain.
However, the original plan here for online booking was to get those folks who want to book when we're not here or we're asleep. It's for them, not for the folks who are calling when it's 'business hours.'
I just had it happen in person the other day that a guest looking over my shoulder saw the calendar and said, 'Oh, good all the rooms are open!' No, all the rooms were booked. I think I need to see if that can be changed somehow to show a huge X in the box instead of just blanking it out. 5 years in and guests still don't understand the coding, even with a legend. So that causes people to move on, if they don't understand what they're looking at.
I think hotel bookings are easier because they don't care if you know the policies or if you want add ons, but you also can't look at a calendar, you can only look at a date. And I will give up immediately if I can't see a calendar showing what rooms are open on what dates.
OK, I take that back, I can look at a calendar on a hotel website and there are pages of information to scroll thru before making a rez. It LOOKS neater because there are no photos. But there is also a disclaimer that you may not get the room you want. And there was a LOT of clicking to get to the calendar..
BTW, I got an email the other day from someone who said they couldn't book more than 2 weeks ahead. Never saw the calendar option.
I do have to say, tho, that some browsers do funky things, so it's not always that the guest didn't look.
 

Copperhead

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.... If the reservation form is tricky or complicated I move on. If the prices are not readily identifiable, I move on.
That is just it - words like TRICKY or COMPLICATED mean different things to different people. Just like I never even thought about how many clicks just to get to the reservation form on my site, for some it is just to time consuming when the phone is right next to them and my nunber is still blaring on my site.
I am not saying that I would not PREFER all my bookings to be done online, I would. I just have a better understanding now as to why some still choose to book the 'old fashion way'. As long as they book, that is what I am after anyhow, anyway!!!
 

JBloggs

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.... If the reservation form is tricky or complicated I move on. If the prices are not readily identifiable, I move on.
That is just it - words like TRICKY or COMPLICATED mean different things to different people. Just like I never even thought about how many clicks just to get to the reservation form on my site, for some it is just to time consuming when the phone is right next to them and my nunber is still blaring on my site.
I am not saying that I would not PREFER all my bookings to be done online, I would. I just have a better understanding now as to why some still choose to book the 'old fashion way'. As long as they book, that is what I am after anyhow, anyway!!!.
If we have a website, we need to always be open to updates and reno's just like we do in our B&B's.
Another thread mentioned that people do not book online. I was simply looking into some reasons why they might not book online. As always everything is a battle on this forum.


 

egoodell

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I'll agree that it is a long process. If you don't want a room on the date the calendar shows immediately, you have to go and select the date. And then you have to know where to click to make the reservation and then you get all the rooms that are available, altho the room you 'selected' is at the top. Fill in how many days, how many people and then you get the form for your info. THEN you get to scroll thru the policies. And finally you get a page that says 'thank you for your reservation, we'll be contacting you shortly.'
I like your layout better because the room is always right there where you can see what you're booking.
But I think all of them are a pain.
However, the original plan here for online booking was to get those folks who want to book when we're not here or we're asleep. It's for them, not for the folks who are calling when it's 'business hours.'
I just had it happen in person the other day that a guest looking over my shoulder saw the calendar and said, 'Oh, good all the rooms are open!' No, all the rooms were booked. I think I need to see if that can be changed somehow to show a huge X in the box instead of just blanking it out. 5 years in and guests still don't understand the coding, even with a legend. So that causes people to move on, if they don't understand what they're looking at.
I think hotel bookings are easier because they don't care if you know the policies or if you want add ons, but you also can't look at a calendar, you can only look at a date. And I will give up immediately if I can't see a calendar showing what rooms are open on what dates.
OK, I take that back, I can look at a calendar on a hotel website and there are pages of information to scroll thru before making a rez. It LOOKS neater because there are no photos. But there is also a disclaimer that you may not get the room you want. And there was a LOT of clicking to get to the calendar..
BTW, I got an email the other day from someone who said they couldn't book more than 2 weeks ahead. Never saw the calendar option.
I do have to say, tho, that some browsers do funky things, so it's not always that the guest didn't look.
.
Morticia said:
BTW, I got an email the other day from someone who said they couldn't book more than 2 weeks ahead. Never saw the calendar option.
I do have to say, tho, that some browsers do funky things, so it's not always that the guest didn't look.
That is so true. I pay my mortgage online and always forget I can't do it in Chrome. I have to go back to Explorer to do it.
RIki
 

egoodell

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I don't agree that it is necessarily easier to call. I book online because I don't want a person to try and upsell me or chat my ear off. And I want printed confirmation in case I arrive and they say they don't have my reservation.
99% of my guests book online. Some even email me questions from their smart phones.
RIki
 

Morticia

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I'll agree that it is a long process. If you don't want a room on the date the calendar shows immediately, you have to go and select the date. And then you have to know where to click to make the reservation and then you get all the rooms that are available, altho the room you 'selected' is at the top. Fill in how many days, how many people and then you get the form for your info. THEN you get to scroll thru the policies. And finally you get a page that says 'thank you for your reservation, we'll be contacting you shortly.'
I like your layout better because the room is always right there where you can see what you're booking.
But I think all of them are a pain.
However, the original plan here for online booking was to get those folks who want to book when we're not here or we're asleep. It's for them, not for the folks who are calling when it's 'business hours.'
I just had it happen in person the other day that a guest looking over my shoulder saw the calendar and said, 'Oh, good all the rooms are open!' No, all the rooms were booked. I think I need to see if that can be changed somehow to show a huge X in the box instead of just blanking it out. 5 years in and guests still don't understand the coding, even with a legend. So that causes people to move on, if they don't understand what they're looking at.
I think hotel bookings are easier because they don't care if you know the policies or if you want add ons, but you also can't look at a calendar, you can only look at a date. And I will give up immediately if I can't see a calendar showing what rooms are open on what dates.
OK, I take that back, I can look at a calendar on a hotel website and there are pages of information to scroll thru before making a rez. It LOOKS neater because there are no photos. But there is also a disclaimer that you may not get the room you want. And there was a LOT of clicking to get to the calendar..
BTW, I got an email the other day from someone who said they couldn't book more than 2 weeks ahead. Never saw the calendar option.
I do have to say, tho, that some browsers do funky things, so it's not always that the guest didn't look.
.
Morticia said:
BTW, I got an email the other day from someone who said they couldn't book more than 2 weeks ahead. Never saw the calendar option.
I do have to say, tho, that some browsers do funky things, so it's not always that the guest didn't look.
That is so true. I pay my mortgage online and always forget I can't do it in Chrome. I have to go back to Explorer to do it.
RIki
.
egoodell said:
Morticia said:
BTW, I got an email the other day from someone who said they couldn't book more than 2 weeks ahead. Never saw the calendar option.
I do have to say, tho, that some browsers do funky things, so it's not always that the guest didn't look.
That is so true. I pay my mortgage online and always forget I can't do it in Chrome. I have to go back to Explorer to do it.
RIki
And I have found certain features in my emailing program only work in IE. Until I remember that, I sit there and swear at the program!
 

Morticia

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I never call. If the photos are not inviting, I move on. If the info is not there, I move on. If the reservation form is tricky or complicated I move on. If the prices are not readily identifiable, I move on.
This is not just me, this is the way it is.
I say it all the time, and I will say it again, you do not know the bookings you lose, those who click onto another website and book over there. You simply do not know, you meaning - me, you and everyone else in this business. If you think online reservations are second to calling then there is a huge gaping hole - since your primary marketing is online, then it is only common sense that the bookings would be online as well..
Joey Bloggs said:
If you think online reservations are second to calling then there is a huge gaping hole - since your
primary marketing is online, then it is only common sense that the bookings would be online as well.
This is a good point. Now, because you have changed systems, are you seeing any difference in the book online vs not scenario?
Maybe guests don't like my system. Because I'm used to it, I find other systems confusing and hard to use. Webervations and AO make you type everything out, no pulldown boxes, unless that is the way some have set them up.
And anytime I see, 'calendar last updated...' with the date or, 'calendar may not be up to date' then I call. Not wasting my time to fill out a form if I'm not going to get what I want in the end.
 

BruceGreig

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This is a big issue for us at KeepMeBooked. The two things that can make an online booking process more complicated than it needs to be are booking multiple rooms and booking extras. We've deliberately launched our online booking facility without either of these things, so guests have a simple four page process:
* Select date on calendar
* Select room from available list
* Enter contact details
* Enter payment details
[FONT= 'Times New Roman']We are working on a process which will offer those guests who need multiple rooms the option to select multiple rooms (and the extra info needed, like entering how many people in each room); but guests who just need one room will see the simpler process. If you are interested in this stuff there are a couple of detailed posts on our blog on this topic.
I'd love to hear more thoughts from you guys on what you think the best process for the guest is.
[last paragraph deleted]
[edited by swirt to remove comments about competition. They are not appropriate and against the terms of use of the site Please use caution regarding self promotion]

[/FONT]
 

swirt

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This is a big issue for us at KeepMeBooked. The two things that can make an online booking process more complicated than it needs to be are booking multiple rooms and booking extras. We've deliberately launched our online booking facility without either of these things, so guests have a simple four page process:
* Select date on calendar
* Select room from available list
* Enter contact details
* Enter payment details
[FONT= 'Times New Roman']We are working on a process which will offer those guests who need multiple rooms the option to select multiple rooms (and the extra info needed, like entering how many people in each room); but guests who just need one room will see the simpler process. If you are interested in this stuff there are a couple of detailed posts on our blog on this topic.
I'd love to hear more thoughts from you guys on what you think the best process for the guest is.
[last paragraph deleted]
[edited by swirt to remove comments about competition. They are not appropriate and against the terms of use of the site Please use caution regarding self promotion]

[/FONT].
BruceGreig, one vendor talking about another vendor's competitive offerings is not allowed. It leads to pissing matches that we just don't want on this site. Vendors are welcome here and I realize we ask them to walk a fine line when it comes to promoting themselves and their products.
Please take a moment to read the section on self-promotion in the terms of use.
 

BruceGreig

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This is a big issue for us at KeepMeBooked. The two things that can make an online booking process more complicated than it needs to be are booking multiple rooms and booking extras. We've deliberately launched our online booking facility without either of these things, so guests have a simple four page process:
* Select date on calendar
* Select room from available list
* Enter contact details
* Enter payment details
[FONT= 'Times New Roman']We are working on a process which will offer those guests who need multiple rooms the option to select multiple rooms (and the extra info needed, like entering how many people in each room); but guests who just need one room will see the simpler process. If you are interested in this stuff there are a couple of detailed posts on our blog on this topic.
I'd love to hear more thoughts from you guys on what you think the best process for the guest is.
[last paragraph deleted]
[edited by swirt to remove comments about competition. They are not appropriate and against the terms of use of the site Please use caution regarding self promotion]

[/FONT].
BruceGreig, one vendor talking about another vendor's competitive offerings is not allowed. It leads to pissing matches that we just don't want on this site. Vendors are welcome here and I realize we ask them to walk a fine line when it comes to promoting themselves and their products.
Please take a moment to read the section on self-promotion in the terms of use.
.
Thank you for gentle warning - point taken.
 

Samster

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I agree that there are sometimes too many steps involved. I think the designers of these systems where you get yet another chance to look at the other rooms that are open on the date you want are giving you a chance to re-think your selection of rooms. :) Might be a good marketing idea for some folks whereas for others of us it torques us off that it seems like another wasted step.
I will click a bunch of times if all the info is there about an inn as long as I don't have to re-type my information! Please don't make me have to call and leave a voice mail message. I will move on to the next place pronto.
Here is the thing I think we need to consider if we are getting a lot of phone calls nowadays vs. booking online - Is all the info there on the website so that folks can book without calling? Do I have good pictures of all my rooms, their bathrooms, common areas, and outdoor areas? Please don't make me call to find out about my room's bathroom. Please. (I know...I am a broken record on this subject.)
 

Morticia

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I agree that there are sometimes too many steps involved. I think the designers of these systems where you get yet another chance to look at the other rooms that are open on the date you want are giving you a chance to re-think your selection of rooms. :) Might be a good marketing idea for some folks whereas for others of us it torques us off that it seems like another wasted step.
I will click a bunch of times if all the info is there about an inn as long as I don't have to re-type my information! Please don't make me have to call and leave a voice mail message. I will move on to the next place pronto.
Here is the thing I think we need to consider if we are getting a lot of phone calls nowadays vs. booking online - Is all the info there on the website so that folks can book without calling? Do I have good pictures of all my rooms, their bathrooms, common areas, and outdoor areas? Please don't make me call to find out about my room's bathroom. Please. (I know...I am a broken record on this subject.).
This is interesting as I just had 2 calls in a row- one caller was looking at a book (thanks to whoever said 'ask where they found you before you start') and the other was looking at the availability calendar, had her room picked out and wanted a AAA discount. (Maybe this is where the online booking discount would have worked, but why get paid less in season than you can?)
After I quoted the prices to the one with the book she said, 'I guess this book is old, I thought it would be less off season.' So, I asked what prices she had in the book and everything I quoted was right in that range, toward the lower end. She didn't want to pay for her kids. Because the prices she quoted said 'Rates for doubles' and she knew that meant for 2 people.
 

Don Draper

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I agree that there are sometimes too many steps involved. I think the designers of these systems where you get yet another chance to look at the other rooms that are open on the date you want are giving you a chance to re-think your selection of rooms. :) Might be a good marketing idea for some folks whereas for others of us it torques us off that it seems like another wasted step.
I will click a bunch of times if all the info is there about an inn as long as I don't have to re-type my information! Please don't make me have to call and leave a voice mail message. I will move on to the next place pronto.
Here is the thing I think we need to consider if we are getting a lot of phone calls nowadays vs. booking online - Is all the info there on the website so that folks can book without calling? Do I have good pictures of all my rooms, their bathrooms, common areas, and outdoor areas? Please don't make me call to find out about my room's bathroom. Please. (I know...I am a broken record on this subject.).
This is interesting as I just had 2 calls in a row- one caller was looking at a book (thanks to whoever said 'ask where they found you before you start') and the other was looking at the availability calendar, had her room picked out and wanted a AAA discount. (Maybe this is where the online booking discount would have worked, but why get paid less in season than you can?)
After I quoted the prices to the one with the book she said, 'I guess this book is old, I thought it would be less off season.' So, I asked what prices she had in the book and everything I quoted was right in that range, toward the lower end. She didn't want to pay for her kids. Because the prices she quoted said 'Rates for doubles' and she knew that meant for 2 people.
.
Morticia said:
...why get paid less in season than you can?
Build the discount into the rate...last July we had decided to increase our rates. We went $10 above what we were going to raise it to and then offered the $10/night discount. I know our set-ups aren't exactly the same Mort but I really think with your volume this would work for you. With our rates, $10/night ends up being a bigger discount than AAA would be.
 
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