Property owners move to responsive websites to increase online bookings
A growing number of New Zealand-based and international motel and hotel owners are discovering a positive financial return upon investing in responsive website upgrades and implementing new tools such as Channel Manager.
With the recent rapid shift towards mobile and tablet devices, hotel websites need to be responsive. This means the contents within the website will automatically resize or scale down to fit to any screen size, whether it is a mobile, tablet or PC. Many older websites were built for PC or laptop screens and are not responsive, resulting in the contents not displaying properly on mobile devices. This results in difficult site navigation and missed bookings as the visitor has simply clicked away due to a negative experience.
New Zealand now has just over 60% smart phone penetration and around 53% of Kiwis use their mobile phone more than their home phone. Ownership in desktop computers is dropping and there has been a significant shift towards buying online with over $5.4b spent online in the last financial year (2013, c/f Roy Morgan - NZ Digital Universe). The rapidly increasing shift to mobile and tablets for everyday online activities means e-commerce sites, particularly in the accommodation sector, need to be responsive and provide seamless integration with other online channels.
Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (New Zealand), January 2013-June 2013, n=6,346. Base: New Zealanders 14+
With over 300 New Zealand properties and 1300 worldwide, New Zealand-based hotel software company STAAH provides clients with a suite of products that make online booking easy for guests. It also reduces manual processing at the hotel end. Head of Sales at STAAH, Edwin Saldanha, states that “web browsing on mobile platforms has overtaken desktop browsing. If you do not have a responsive site, you could be losing your bookings to your competitor properties.
Moving to a responsive design will give you the following advantages;
- Responsive design gives you the same look and feel of a desktop version without pinching the screen and making it larger
- Responsive design lets you keep your own domain rather than m. domain.com and this helps in Google search
- The technology used in a responsive design is forward thinking - it will work on next year's devices without requiring additional changes so it’s a much better return on your investment”
Channel management tools or pooled inventory are also being introduced to remove all too common issues such as overbooking, disparity in rates across online channels and loss in staff productivity due to time consuming manual booking processes. Over the past few years, a growing number of New Zealand property owners and operators have moved away from the challenges of manual online inventory distribution and have integrated a Channel Management tool.
“Today’s accommodation providers must to be online or they are missing out on bookings, it’s that simple. It is quite surprising to see many properties in New Zealand that still do not have their booking engine for direct bookings. Guests want instant confirmation for bookings and many properties are missing out on potential revenue,” says Edwin. “Using STAAH as a Channel Manager helps properties populate their inventory to as many of their nominated online sites simultaneously including their own booking engine. We use a pooled inventory system for all online channels. So even a small property with only 10 rooms will look like an inventory of 50 rooms when it is listed on 5 online channels. 10 rooms will show up across the channels and as soon as one booking is received, inventory drops to 9 on all channels”. This system gives their customers immediate reassurance and satisfaction their booking has been received.
The STAAH booking engine has a display that can be customised to have the same look and feel of the property's website and with images and features displayed clearly guests know exactly what they are booking. The booking engine is mobile-friendly and lastly it is PCI certified to take online payments.
“Many of our clients were having issues with their manual systems where inventory would be oversold resulting in overbooking. Quite often they would sell out of inventory on a particular online channel and miss out on potential additional sales before the problem was picked up and rectified,” says Edwin.
Channel Management tools such as Channel Manager remove these issues as well as providing property managers/ owners with the ability to set rate parity with competitor properties across all online channels to ensure competitiveness.
With a bumper summer season being forecasted for the New Zealand accommodation sector, now is the time to work out how you will secure your share of high season travellers booking online.
Based in Auckland, STAAH is a hotel software company with over 300 New Zealand clients and over 1300 clients worldwide. STAAH specialises in Channel Management, Booking Engines, RatesTalk, Website Development and Search Engine Optimisation.