Behind the scenes of our new mobile booking engine

The beta testing that leads to great conversion uplift

It’s an ongoing battle. As a hotel, you deploy as many online marketing tactics as possible to draw visitors to your website. But you know that this is only half of the battle, as the next step involves leading that beloved visitor along the booking path to the holy grail of checking out.

As prices become more competitive than ever across different channels, this second process is even more crucial to win the booking, and especially on mobile devices where bookers expect perfection. It’s time to hold the website visitor’s hand and make this process of booking as enjoyable as possible – and offer an unrivalled experience to reduce abandonment and increase conversion.

At Availpro, we’re about to launch our brand new mobile booking engine. As with all professional technology companies, there’s a whole lot of testing that has been going on behind the scenes and I’d like to share with you some of methods we’ve deployed to ensure this latest version – which will be free to all Availpro users – increases your hotel’s chances of conversion.

What did we do?

With our beta-testing phase for our new mobile booking engine, which started in July this year, we split the website traffic arriving via mobile devices at our participating hotel clients’ booking engines. For 50%, traffic arrived at our current mobile version of our booking engine. The other 50% was diverted to arrive at our new version.

This allowed us – and still allows us – to compare the results between the two versions, and to check if we are going in the right direction. Real data is essential in fine-tuning any new product, and we were encouraged by the results that showed we were heading in the right direction.

In fact, not only were we encouraged, but we were also surprised. In terms of pure data, we saw that the new mobile booking engine’s conversion rate increased by 40% – with 2,75% versus 1,96%.

Obviously this figure is good news for our hotel customers, but we will continue the tests as in the Summer period, some properties may have offered special rates to stimulate demand, which may have led to higher than average conversion. We also launched the beta phase in early July with 12 hotels, while today we have 411 hotels active in the testing programme.

We also ran tests with real people, via an independent research company, in a “laboratory environment”. Our guinea pigs praised how the “graphics felt very modern”. They said the “overall layout and navigation was simple and intuitive. Makes sense.” Another comment: “I really liked the simplicity with which I could see what is included in the hotel rate.” We also took onboard feedback based on images and icons – and future improvements are being made.

How did we do it?

So what changes did we make that resulted in such a conversion uplift?

– The new mobile booking engine is “mobile first” for an optimal user experience. It’s a single-page application.
– The new mobile booking engine is responsively designed, meaning it is optimised to the specific mobile device of the user.
– It exploits the full potential of high-definition (HD) rendering of the latest mobile devices, meaning your beautiful photography now looks sharper than ever before.
– The purchasing process and navigation have been also simplified and optimised, meaning fewer buttons to press or swipes to make.

Reducing abandonment

As I mentioned before, those first two crucial steps of date selection and room tariff selection in the booking process have been designed to be more engaging than our current mobile version, via better mobile navigation and more attractive design. This has led to increased performance, as products are highlighted more clearly.

We think the future is looking bright for all our hotel customers as they migrate to our new system – our new mobile booking engine will help you reduce abandonment, and increase conversion rates. As you look after your guests, we’re here to make sure those guests feel just as welcome booking their stay with you on a mobile device.

 

Jonathan Narour
R&D Mobile Project Manager Availpro

Jonathan Narour is Product Manager at Availpro. Over the past nine years he has evolved his career across the R&D team, working in web development and digital marketing strategy. Specialising in sales and customer relationships, he is currently bringing his expertise to coordinate a project to redesign the mobile booking engine, and with the R&D team ensuring the quality and success of this new product.
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