Michel van Beek | 10 October 2022

Maximise results from your online search and book flow

Maxxton came across many questions, and obstacles and always searched for solutions that fit the need. That is why this insight article is created. We will point out that there is not just one best way to configure your search & book flow. There are many situations that ask for different approaches. Predefined (static) flows change into (personalised) smart (dynamic) flows. Hence, flexibility and easiness to adjust the book flow are key. Even better, make your flow adaptable to relevant parameters and start using different flows per situation.

The most obvious parameters that affect the search & book flows are presented
  1. Seasonality and occupancy rate
  2. Personalisation of content and flow
  3. Priority management
  4. Preference bookings
  5. Dynamic pricing
1. Seasonality and occupancy rate

Demand/supply is very important in the Hospitality Industry. During low season and a low occupancy rate, it is preferable to focus on conversion rate. A flow with as few book steps as possible is preferable since every additional step will result in more visitors exiting the booking process. Contrary, during the high season a high occupancy rate is expected. Additional book flow steps to increase upsell is a viable plan. Your website visitor is more likely to proceed and finish the booking process. This is a more subtle way than only increasing the basic rent and it will add up.
Peaks regarding occupancy rate usually result in busy (operational) times. For that reason, scheduling of flows is created. You don’t need to spend time creating the flow anymore. It automatically will be implemented and run as expected.

2. Personalisation of content and flow

Relevant information and data at the right moment. That will increase conversion rate and revenue significantly. Personalisation is a very effective way to accomplish this. Use existing data to autocomplete required information for returning visitors. The flow will be fast and will improve the user experience. Moreover, show dynamic content that is relevant with respect to someone’s background. For instance, show images and available accommodation type with pets if this guest booked a pet friendly house in the past. Also, ask whether they want to book the same accommodation as the previous time and add preferred booking cost. Another example is to show relevant activities and increase the chance to generate some additional revenue, while it is not becoming annoying for the website visitor.

Recommendation Engine

A recommendation Engine can be used to show relevant alternatives. From the aviation industry, we know that showing alternative dates/prices and recommending extras (upgrades) are very effective. Maxxton helps you to learn from scenarios and implement conditional flows. Maxxton develops an AI Recommendation Engine that automatically recognises those scenarios and shows the most relevant information for your website visitors.

3. Priority management

Within search results overviews you can use priority management, which will be based on parameters like target amount, contract priority, and plan board fitting (only when the occupancy is high):

  • Target amount – By setting a dynamic target revenue to be achieved per accommodation, priority management can distribute the revenue targets based on various seasons and occupancy during the year. The accommodations having the highest target revenue can be prioritised when guests make a reservation. This helps in generating distributed revenue over multiple accommodations to achieve your targets.
  • Planboard fitting – During high seasons, when there are many reservations coming in, there can be unnecessary gaps created between reservations leading to a loss of revenue. With priority management, the reservations will be placed optimally on the planboard in order to maximise the rented days and eliminate any unnecessary gaps between reservations.
  • Contract priority – To keep it simple, you can also prioritise the order in which the accommodations get booked based on the type of contract type with homeowners when you want to boost the occupancy for certain accommodations.
4. Preference bookings

Within the hospitality industry, you can offer your guests to make a reservation for a specific unit. In our opinion, it depends on the situation whether it is wise to do so. The most obvious reasons to implement preference bookings are conversion rate, additional revenue, increasing retention rate, and ultimately the customer lifetime value. Priority management, historical data, and filtering by the website visitor can be used to both use the most adequate flow:

  • Priority management – In Maxxton Software you implement your most important business rules like target amount, contract priority, and plan board fitting.
  • Historical data – There is much valuable information for existing clients and returning website visitors. You can recognise them in different ways. For instance, via tracking pixels (social, mailing, and website), submitted data in book flow, and most obviously, being logged-in in your system (e.g. guest portal).
  • Filtering by a website visitor – Most website visitors enter your website via long tail keywords like “6 person holiday home with swimming pool”. Those website visitors quickly will go to specific landing pages with predefined filtering or enable filtering themselves during the booking process.

Reasons to not offer a preference booking
  • Difficulties with connecting data from different channels (front desk, OTAs, website, etc.) – Using inaccurate and delayed data may end up in double bookings. To avoid double bookings one source of truth with respect to data and preventive measures is a must.
  • Time-consuming communication with customers and homeowners – We recommend fully automating the booking process to prevent time-consuming calls to help centres.
  • Homeowner’s interests – Misunderstandings and conflicting interests could occur. What is needed is a straightforward set-up to configure homeowner contracts and unit availability.

We would like to emphasise that the consequence of offering preference bookings is less flexibility with respect to optimising your book chart. In our Reallocation Engine article, we explain how to keep track of all possibilities for shuffling existing bookings to another unit to create extra availability. This is possible if a booking can be assigned to another accommodation.

5. Dynamic pricing

One of the most important variables that affect the likelihood of someone to make a booking is cost. Maxxton develops a new revenue management feature through which machine learning algorithms help dynamic pricing of the available accommodations. Together with all other parameters, this will help you to increase revenue significantly. Most obviously, if occupancy rises to 50%, you give another boost of let’s say a 10% hike in the accommodation price. If your booking slows down, you can choose to lower the price. Because it’s advisable to sell at discounted rates rather than leaving an accommodation unbooked. The dynamic approach enables you to gain an average higher profit and revenue than the fixed rates.

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    Author
    Michel van Beek | 10 October 2022
    Michel van Beek has been working at Maxxton since 2008 initially as an Internet Consultant. Currently, he is the Product Owner of Web Manager and a key player in the Maxxton internet solutions.
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