As more customers make hotel reservations online, luxury hotel brands are enhancing their websites. However, many brand sites have room to improve when it comes to customer service and easy booking. Nineteen of the 50 brands in L2’s Digital IQ Index: Luxury Hotels revamped their websites this year, reflecting the growing popularity of online booking. A third of rooms in the United States were booked via hotel brand sites, a 5% increase on the year.
Many hotels have made their sites more aesthetically pleasing with virtual property tours and brand videos, but basic customer service features still lag. While nearly half of Index brand sites featured virtual property tours, only 24% supported live chat – a mere 2% increase.
Brand sites also added features to make the reservation process easier, with 76% of sites allowing customers to change dates mid-booking, an increase of 9% from the previous year. However, only 12% of brand sites displayed real-time room availability. A fifth of Index brand sites only offered basic reservation boxes where customers could enter their desired location and dates, leaving no space for flexible dates, promotion codes or special rates.
The reservation process also got faster. In 2015, more than half of Index brands let customers book a room in less than five clicks, a significant jump from 29% in 2014. It took an average of 4.7 clicks to confirm a booking, and five brands got the process down to three clicks. Since long, complex checkout procedures account for 13% of abandoned bookings, further simplifying the process would likely mean more completed reservations.