Poor security, clunky processes driving online hotel booking abandonment

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Consumers continue to abandon accommodation booking sites that provide a poor experience, according to research from SiteMinder.

The hospitality e-commerce platform’s “Changing Traveller Report 2023” is based on surveys of more than 10,000 travelers across 12 countries and found that half of all travelers have abandoned a booking because of a bad experience, rising to almost three-quarters for the Gen Z cohort and 60% for millennials.

Most important to consumers when booking accommodation online is an easy and secure booking and payment experience (53%), followed by video and images of rooms and the property (50%).

Location details, guest reviews and packages and offers are ranked as the next most important factors by 49% of respondents.

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When quizzed on why they didn’t complete a booking, 24% of consumers said the website didn’t feel secure and the same volume said the process, for example payments, was too difficult. About a fifth said the website took too long to load.

Overall, 53% of respondents felt that the accommodation industry is average when it comes to adopting technology while a quarter felt it is behind. In addition, 66% agree or strongly agree that the booking and stay experience could be better if accommodation providers were more tech savvy.

Trent Innes, chief growth officer at SiteMinder, said: “I’ve met with a lot of hoteliers recently and a lot of it is a lack of time and openness to the opportunity of what they could actually do.” 

Research and booking

The SiteMinder study also looked at where consumers begin their travel research, with 26% using a search engine and 23% using a specific online travel site or mobile application. About 10% of consumers look to brands or properties they are already familiar with, the same amount look to friends for recommendations and 9% find inspiration on social media channels.

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, social media influences accommodation discovery for 90% of Gen Z and 84% of millennials and averages out at 70% of consumers globally.

More than half of respondents also say they are likely or very likely to use artificial intelligence to present them with hotel recommendations, rising to 68% among millennials.

SiteMinder is hearing from hotel customers anecdotally that they are being discovered through generative AI tools such as ChatGPT.

Direct booking with the accommodation provider only increased by a percentage point between this year’s report and that of last year. Meanwhile, the percentage of consumers planning to book via a metasearch site, which can lead to a direct booking, increased from 14% in 2022 to 19% this year.

Millennials and Gen Z are most likely to choose an online booking site or app at 45% and 40%, respectively. Both cohorts are also likely to look to online search and/or metasearch at 22% and 26%, respectively. 

When it comes to direct booking, baby boomers turn to online bookings sites first followed by direct with the accommodation provider’s site. Meanwhile, the preference of those from the “Silent Generation,” also known as “Radio Babies” and born between 1928 and 1945, is to call or email the accommodation first, followed by direct booking and then an online booking site.

On what technology consumers might use to book going forward, Innes said: “There’s still a long way to go as far as the adoption of technology. It will be a key enabler but the experience can so vastly different, the digital technology experience. You’ve got hotels that are still very old school and others that are completely mobile driven. So, the industry as a whole has a long way to go and expectations are rising.”

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Emerging travelers

SiteMinder also covered travelers from India and Mexico for the first time in the report by way of studying emerging traveler groups.

For Indian travelers it found that 27% research accommodation via search engines followed by 25% who use OTAs. For booking, 42% travelers in India turn to OTAs while 26% use search or metasearch.

This traveler set also relies highly on social media, with 92% heavily influence by the platforms and 84% are likely or highly likely to use AI when looking for accommodation.

Research sources for travelers from Mexico were similar to their India counterparts while 31% look to online accommodation sites for booking and 22% turn to search and metasearch. The cohort was a little less likely to use AI at 68% but was even more heavily influenced by social media at 87%.

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