This post starts the Adobe Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing Suite cus­tomer blog series. Today, we are focus­ing on what one of our extremely inno­v­a­tive customers–HeBS Digital–is doing with Adobe solu­tions. Check out this post to see how HeBS Dig­i­tal has helped one of its cus­tomers make a sig­nif­i­cant amount of rev­enue for a customer.

Turn­ing aban­doned vis­its into rev­enue opportunities

HeBS Dig­i­tal uses the Adobe® Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing Suite to mea­sure the results of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing cam­paigns. Addi­tion­ally, we use the suite to mea­sure user behav­ior on hotel web­sites, and use this infor­ma­tion to improve the con­ver­sion process to gen­er­ate more rev­enue for our clients.

The suite offers a vari­ety of reports to mea­sure user behav­ior. For instance, the ‘con­ver­sion fun­nel report’ in Site­Cat­a­lyst® pro­vides a break­down of all impor­tant con­ver­sion met­rics, from point of entry to the com­ple­tion of a hotel reser­va­tion. The ‘pathing report’, also found in Site­Cat­a­lyst®, iden­ti­fies the points at which users aban­don their reser­va­tion. Know­ing where along the reser­va­tion process peo­ple aban­don is of utmost impor­tance, and this can be nar­rowed down to the avail­abil­ity page, the room selec­tion page, or the pay­ment pro­cess­ing page. In sum, the fun­nel and pathing reports pro­vide us with prac­ti­cal insight on mak­ing the case for what we rec­om­mend to clients: the HeBS Dig­i­tal Reser­va­tion Recov­ery Strategy.

Industry-wide, the con­ver­sion rate on travel and hos­pi­tal­ity web­sites remains at a steady 2 per­cent. This means that of all vis­i­tors to the web­site only 2 per­cent will ulti­mately book a room. Even with multi-million dol­lar online mar­ket­ing cam­paigns, the major hotel brands and OTAs still hover around a con­ver­sion rate of between 2 and 3 per­cent. Using Site­Cat­a­lyst®, HeBS Digital’s client port­fo­lio over a two-year period resem­bles the over­all indus­try averages:

• From vis­i­tor to the site to a book­ing ini­ti­ated: 45%
• From a book­ing ini­ti­ated to a com­pleted reser­va­tion: 5%
• From vis­i­tor to the site to a com­pleted reser­va­tion: 2% — on par with the indus­try average

A high vol­ume of vis­i­tors ini­ti­ate a book­ing but do not com­plete a book­ing. This fur­ther sup­ports the notion that vis­i­tors tend to check rates and avail­abil­ity, and then leave the hotel web­site to com­pare these rates with other hotels, read reviews, watch a related video, chat with friends, etc. Many of these hotel web­site vis­i­tors never return to com­plete the transaction.

To dis­cour­age vis­i­tors from com­par­i­son shop­ping, hotels deploy strict rate par­ity poli­cies and pub­lish best rate guar­an­tee pro­grams. They hire dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing experts to tar­get highly qual­i­fied site traf­fic and retar­get when­ever pos­si­ble. They uti­lize attri­bu­tion mod­els to deter­mine what points in the research process yield the high­est ROIs. They opti­mize their sites accord­ing to the new Google Panda and ‘Fresh­ness’ rules and attempt to keep cus­tomers engaged through social media. They par­tic­i­pate in bid man­age­ment to reach qual­i­fied search traf­fic, and so on. In sum, hote­liers are doing every­thing pos­si­ble, except attempt­ing to recover reser­va­tions from guests who aban­don the book­ing process.

HeBS Dig­i­tal recently com­pleted a usabil­ity study for a major hotel brand. To answer the ques­tion: “What is your pri­mary pur­pose for vis­it­ing the ‘Hotel’ web­site today?” the over­whelm­ing major­ity reported to be look­ing, shop­ping, research­ing, and brows­ing (mul­ti­ple answers were permitted.)

Response Per­cent­age
Make a reser­va­tion 32%
View or can­cel a reser­va­tion 5%
Research or com­pare rates 20%
Look for deals and spe­cials 38%
Look for hotel infor­ma­tion 18%
Find des­ti­na­tion infor­ma­tion 3%
Browse 11%

The range in responses demon­strates the vari­ety of uses shop­pers view as the pur­pose and func­tion of a hotel web­site. There are many rea­sons a guest will visit and leave the site. The same is true for start­ing and not com­plet­ing a reservation.

HeBS Digital’s reser­va­tion recov­ery tech­nol­ogy enables hote­liers to stay in touch with their cus­tomers after they aban­don the book­ing. The tech­nol­ogy is designed to cap­ture shop­pers who have aban­doned at the point of pur­chase, and then recover these shop­pers by send­ing a post aban­don­ment emailer that invites the shop­per to return and pur­chase. Thus far the pilot pro­gram for the major hotel brand has recov­ered over $160,000 in rev­enue in the first two months since installation.

How Does the Reser­va­tion Recov­ery Strat­egy Work?

Once the vis­i­tor reaches the point of pur­chase stage, aban­don­ment is likely (as noted in the indus­try data above). A per­cent­age of peo­ple will enter their email address, first name, and last name and then decide to dis­con­tinue the book­ing for what­ever rea­son (check­ing with a spouse, dis­trac­tions, pay­ment issues, con­tin­u­ing to shop around, etc). It is this pop­u­la­tion of aban­don­ers that the recov­ery strat­egy aims to reach and gives the hotel another oppor­tu­nity to sell to this cus­tomer. As seen in the case study below, this is a size­able group of poten­tial buyers.

Here is how the strat­egy works. After the shop­per aban­dons the pay­ment page, a branded emailer is sent with a mes­sage thank­ing the guest for vis­it­ing the web­site. Included in the emailer is a phone num­ber and chat func­tion (if applic­a­ble) that con­nects to reser­va­tions. The emailer also con­tains a very impor­tant deep link that will return the shop­per back to the point of pur­chase. The deep link embeds the spe­cific prop­erty (used in cases for multi-property com­pa­nies), dates of stay, num­ber of guests, and room type selected from the point of aban­don­ment. This allows the shop­per to pick up where left off.

In this case study the emailer was set to deliver within two hours of aban­don­ment. The emailer did not offer any incen­tive or other sales mes­sage – just a sim­ple, non-obtrusive mes­sage thank­ing the guest for their visit with the link to return to the point of aban­don­ment. The phone and chat func­tion were not tracked.

The recov­ery sys­tem allows for per­son­al­iza­tion as well as lan­guage capa­bil­i­ties. The emailer is per­son­al­ized and addresses the cus­tomer by their first name (if pro­vided dur­ing the ini­tial visit), and the lan­guage of the mes­sage is based on the lan­guage spec­i­fied dur­ing the ini­ti­ated book­ing. In other words, the more infor­ma­tion gath­ered the more per­son­al­ized the emailer.

Reser­va­tion Recov­ery Case Study Results

Client: Major hotel brand with up to 20 prop­er­ties in North Amer­ica
Date range: 10÷1÷2011 to 12÷6÷2011

As men­tioned above, as many as 45% of vis­i­tors to a hotel web­site ini­ti­ate a book­ing. In this case study, only 17% were of reach­able qual­ity (they pro­vided an email address before they abandoned).

Total Book­ing Attempts:
• Ini­ti­ated book­ings: 38,147
• Aban­doned book­ings: 19,538
• Reach­able book­ings: 6,793 (17% of all ini­ti­ated book­ings got as far as enter­ing the email address)

We were able to cap­ture 17% of all shop­pers who pro­vided their email address before aban­don­ing the page. Shortly after launch­ing the strat­egy, we moved the email address field to the top of the book­ing process and made it the first item to com­plete on the pay­ment page. We feel the higher place­ment made a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to the num­ber of reach­able bookings.

• Reach­able book­ers: 6,793
• Total reach­able book­ers that returned: 838
• Total returned book­ers that con­verted: 192
• Total rev­enue recov­ered: $160,871

The 192 con­verted book­ings from the total reach­able 6,793 reach­able book­ers above rep­re­sents a con­ver­sion rate of 2.8%. This is con­sis­tent with over­all con­ver­sion rates for the indus­try. Of the 192 book­ers, it is unknown what per­cent would have come back to book with­out the aban­don­ment emailer and the 192 book­ers did not impact the over­all con­ver­sion rate for this brand. Instead, we view these book­ings as incre­men­tal, as another tool to fight the OTAs, and another method to stay engaged with a highly qual­i­fied customer.

How­ever one feels about the prac­tice of recov­er­ing busi­ness, it can­not be dis­puted that an addi­tional 2.8% con­ver­sion rate from qual­i­fied vis­i­tors can amount to size­able rev­enues. If these num­bers con­tinue, the brand should expect to gen­er­ate approx­i­mately $780,000 by the end of the year from this ini­tia­tive. Given the nom­i­nal fee to set up, cre­ate, and run the project, the annual return on invest­ment will nicely exceed 7800%.

About the Authors:
Jason Price is Exec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent and Mar­i­ana Mechoso Safer is Vice Pres­i­dent, Mar­ket­ing at HeBS Dig­i­tal, the industry’s lead­ing full-service hotel dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing and direct online chan­nel strat­egy firm based in New York City (www​.HeB​S​Dig​i​tal​.com). HeBS Dig­i­tal has pio­neered many of the “best prac­tices” in hotel dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing, social and mobile mar­ket­ing, and direct online chan­nel dis­tri­b­u­tion. The firm spe­cial­izes in help­ing hote­liers build their direct Inter­net mar­ket­ing and dis­tri­b­u­tion strat­egy, boost the hotel’s Inter­net mar­ket­ing pres­ence, estab­lish inter­ac­tive rela­tion­ships with their cus­tomers, and sig­nif­i­cantly increase direct online book­ings and ROIs.

HeBS Dig­i­tal & Adobe Part­ner­ship
With HeBS Digital’s exper­tise in the hos­pi­tal­ity indus­try and Adobe’s lead­ing edge ana­lyt­i­cal and design tools, the two com­pa­nies have forged a part­ner­ship in best prac­tices in online mar­ket­ing and dis­tri­b­u­tion. To learn more about the part­ner­ship please visit us at http://​www​.heb​s​dig​i​tal​.com/​a​b​o​u​t​u​s​/​a​d​o​b​e​p​a​r​t​n​e​r​s​h​i​p​.​php or con­tact HeBS Dig­i­tal con­sul­tants at (212) 752‑8186 or success@​hebsdigital.​com.


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