hotel-reception-lobby

3 Cases to Help Marketers Understand User Behavior on Hotel Booking Websites

  |  June 15, 2014   |  Comments   |  

Your online travel booking engine website is actually very much a vertical search engine or a meta searcher for travel booking information.

If you are an online marketer of an online travel booking engine website, your site may have products available including hotels, flights, vacation packages, car rentals, train tickets, etc.

Take a hotel booking engine website as an example. Among all the non-bounced users landing on your website, more than 90 percent of users will end up using the search box for a hotel search.

On a hotel booking engine, hotels are the products to sell. And any hotel has the compulsory dimensions below, and all of these dimensions are necessary for a hotel search to make sense:

  • Destination: Where the hotel is.
  • Room type: What type of room the customer is searching for.
  • Check-in date and check-out date: Prices of hotels are normally different when you shift these dates by a few days.
  • Number of rooms: Consider the number of people traveling (including adults and children), and the number of beds available.

Marketers must pay attention to what users are looking for and help them navigate accordingly. In the following three cases, your online marketing activities should send users to three different types of landing pages on your hotel booking website.

Case 1: Homepage of a hotel booking engine website as user's landing page.

Any website that has thousands of products should normally have two major ways for users to navigate products:

  • Search: A search box with drop-down fields and/or search fields. Once the search button is clicked, the website should return with hotel search results.
  • Browse: Products are shown as clickable product images and even with clickable text links for browse and click experience.

But more than 90 percent of users that are un-bounced in the first place after landing on the hotel booking engine's homepage will conduct a search using the hotel search box available.

Why would you do a hotel search?

On the homepage, it is possible to show the top 10 or top 20 most popular (or mostly booked) hotels. The one problem is the top hotel list can be all from one destination, or can be all from totally different destinations. How do you know this arrangement is going to suit most of your users? For this reason, letting users find the hotels they want by browsing can rather difficult.

Case 2: Hotel search results page of a hotel booking engine website as a user's landing page.

This page on a hotel booking engine already has a specific destination, for example, Beijing. When landing on this page, the user is one step closer to choosing and booking a hotel that is in Beijing. There are a few possible options that the user could choose to do after he/she looks at the list of Beijing hotels on the page:

  • Click one or more of the Beijing hotels from the list of search results.
  • Click to the next page of search results to see more Beijing hotels, by using the pagination option.
  • Refine his/her search. The change options available to the refined search include: Check-in date, check-out date, number of rooms, room type, change of hotel destination, and narrow down of hotel destination (if available).

Say your website has 100 Beijing hotels. Each hotel has two room types. You are flexible and can check-in to your Beijing hotel any day during the next 20 days. So only for Beijing hotels in this case, there are 100 x 2 x 20 = 4,000 unique hotel results. For a single hotel search results page that shows 10 hotel results, it requires 400 pages to show all the results that are suitable for this one particular hotel search.

Case 3: Hotel detail page of a hotel booking engine website as a user's landing page.

This page should include the information that is unique to one specific hotel. The hotel or room information must be as detailed as possible to assist the user in making this specific hotel booking. Some useful information could be:

  • Hotel room photos
  • Room types
  • Prices for the room types
  • Hotel location with maps
  • Facilities of the hotel room and the hotel
  • User reviews and rating
  • All the other non-compulsory information, but are useful information to understand the hotel and the room type.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gordon  Choi

Gordon Choi has paid search experience in Google AdWords and Baidu since 2003; Yahoo/Bing since 2002 and SEO and web analytics experience since 2005 across China, Asia, U.S., U.K. and Australian markets. He gathered China Internet experience through working in-house at Ctrip.com and Alibaba.com and now specializes in setting up SEM/SEO strategies, managing online campaign operations, and implementing web analytics solutions for clients.

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