$5 trillion. That is how much Insider Intelligence estimates worldwide eCommerce sales will be in 2022. With an opportunity so large, hotels have to hop on the digital bandwagon of high-performing eCommerce platforms. If you think you don’t fit into this category—you do. As long as you allow for bookings on your website, you are the lucky owner of an eCommerce platform. And the even luckier owner of an immense opportunity for revenue growth. To help you stay on track with the changing habits of netizens, we’ve put together the biggest trends that will impact the future of hotel eCommerce.
Without further ado, here are the 5 keys that will get your hotel ahead of the competition in the eCommerce game:
1. High tech-pectations
Everyday behaviour has shifted dramatically over the last decades. Technology adoption has been especially steep in households all around the globe—and it’s getting even steeper. Harvard Business Review reports that it took decades for the telephone to reach 50% of households, but it took less than 5 years for smartphones to accomplish the same. Now in the US, the number of households using smartphone technology has increased by 46% in under a decade. This means that already by 2019, over 80% of households used smartphones.
People are eager to adopt technology in their normal lives, and this translates to guests expecting the same level of technology when booking a hotel.
Changes in travel behaviour are normal and expected as new lifestyle trends emerge and new technologies arise. Post-pandemic these changes were sped up to an unprecedented level. Take the shift towards booking direct—throughout the pandemic, travellers booking directly via the hotel website increased by over 50%. With this in mind, a mobile-optimised eCommerce presence is no longer just nice to have: it’s the bare minimum for guests.
This is where tech-pectation (tech-expectation) comes in. It means that guests expect a certain level of technology from the hotels they book with. With so much control over their life, it’s no wonder they expect the same level of control digitally. They don’t want to download an app because you tell them to—they want to book how they want to, on the device of their choice. Be available everywhere. Don’t make guests search or wait for you. Make sure your eCommerce presence is in its best shape on desktop, mobile and tablet.
You don’t need to go with every tech trend there is. You need to make sure you’re aware of what tech your guests use, and have it both at your venue and online. For instance, have uninterrupted wi-fi for your business guests or remote workers. If you’re targeting Next-Gen travellers, bear in mind that they do everything digitally. You might want to have 24/7 chatbot, a thorough FAQ page and human online customer support.
2. The rise of CaaS in eCommerce
It’s no news the industry is already adapting to the changing needs of the post-pandemic traveller. eCommerce industry-leader AirBnb made updates to accommodate for better guest experience, more choice and more flexibility—and for good reason. People are overwhelmed with options, but what they know is that they want personalisation and unique, niche experiences. For hotels, this is translated both online and offline. In fact, 90% of your guests expect a personalised experience, even at your front desk.
You need to be the expert in CaaS—curation as a service. Offer personalised experiences that feel relevant and unique for your guests. Think about your guests, your property and your city and create offers accordingly. On your website, make sure you don’t only display relevant information for them, but also a curated offering.
One example of this can be a MiniBar. If you offer a fridge in the room, you can give guests the opportunity to order what they want to have in it during their stay through your mobile site. You can also display content based on the guest profile with recommendations during their stay. For instance, if a family of 4 makes it to your booking process, you can refer them to a water bike rental close to your hotel; if a couple is booking, suggest a romantic dinner for two as an upsell. Use the information they give you online to your advantage.
3. Mobile payments: an eCommerce must
If you’re not yet offering mobile-friendly payments, you might want to rethink your strategy. 70% of people start their search on mobile. In fact, more than half of eCommerce traffic comes from smartphones. That’s a large market that could be finalising their booking with your hotel spontaneously or filling up last-minute empty rooms.
However, it seems that the demand for mobile is not yet up to par. Carts are abandoned on mobile at more than twice the desktop rate. In 2020, German checkouts performed the worst, with only 4% of checkouts supporting digital wallets. In 2022, you have to make sure you remove all opportunities for website visitors to bounce. Make sure both your website and payment system work seamlessly on mobile for frictionless bookings.
4. Support in the way they want it
Post-pandemic, people feel more stressed about booking international trips. You need to give them a helping hand in making big decisions, such as booking a trip. One problem is that they get stuck in “the messy middle”. This is where guests get stuck in the continuous loop of exploration and evaluation until something triggers them to make their decision. So much so that the average accommodation purchase journey lasts an incredible 36 days and involves 45 touch-points across several devices and types of websites.
There are a few things you should achieve with your eCommerce presence:
- Be present at all times: guests expect instant communication and they need to be able to ask questions (live chat, chatbots etc.)
- Personalise communication: the expectation of personalisation also extends to communication too, as answers should be unique to their specific questions and concerns
- Be where they are: the right information needs to be available to them in the channels they want to use (be that via email, on your website or on social media)
- Make their journey smooth: focus on giving help and support, rather than emphasising rules and limitations
Don’t feel that you need to change your whole strategy to accommodate increasing guest requirements. It's a lot about the ‘How’, and less about the ‘What’. As long as you convey the information in a way that is accessible to your guests and you address their concerns (or even address concerns they didn’t know they might have), you’ll be sure to diminish the post-pandemic travel anxiety.
5. Open, accessible and safe
The main purpose of your website is to show what you can offer to interested guests. However, when trying to showcase all of your amenities, you might end up with an overwhelming amount of information. This can jeopardise your conversion. This is why you need to create a guest-centred website experience—keep in mind what guests might be looking for when browsing your website, and address all the questions they may ask. Consider asking for the objective advice of an e-Commerce expert or website designer.
Online browsers are used to having the information they need at their fingertips at all times—they want an online world that is relevant to them. However, privacy and security are also important in the eCommerce world. Find the balance between hyper-personalisation and privacy by assessing how much information from bookers is valuable to your hotel. This can vary, so consider what you can offer while still respecting the privacy of your guests.
Accessibility is not only expected now, but it is also a legal requirement in some countries. To make work easier, you can use tools such as CookieBot, which helps you make your cookies and online tracking compliant with regulations. Having a website design that accommodates for accessibility is crucial—but not only for meeting legal requirements. It can also increase conversion. Make sure your website is at least adapted for tablet and mobile users, and accounts for the 22% of online users, who have disabilities.
Ready for the future of eCommerce
eCommerce providers have to get ready for a mobile future. As netizens expect technology from hotels, they also want more personalised and curated experiences and communication. Hoteliers need to make sure that they meet these expectations and have a smooth booking process all the way down to the payment. Take a look at your hotel’s eCommerce presence. Do you have what it takes to please the high standards of your future visitors?
Hotelchamp is the easy way to get your hotel online, attract highly converting traffic and encourage guests to book directly. With solutions that allow you to have full control of your online presence, Hotelchamp is here to help you take back control of the guest experience. With Hotelchamp, everybody wins.