MarketingNewsNews In BriefOp-Ed

Attribute-based shopping technology: Better results for travellers & hoteliers  

Op-ed: Hari Nair on how an innovative new shopping model for the entire hotel industry can improve guest experience & increase revenue

The way travellers book accommodation is dramatically changing.

For years, travellers have been confined to the rigid output of rate plans limiting flexibility when trying to find a hotel room and extras (such as breakfast, parking, wifi etc.) that meet their needs.

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As choice and transparency have become more possible in other elements of consumers’ lives – whether it’s online shopping or banking – they expect the same experience when it comes to booking travel.

The ABS Opportunity

With Attribute-based shopping (ABS), we could be one step closer. The product unbundles attributes that make up a hotel rate plan, increasing price transparency while helping travellers easily compare their options to build their ideal stay.

Prior to ABS, lodging rate plans were packaged in a complex and often overwhelming format for travellers. The legacy rate plan display made it difficult for them to compare available offerings and understand the difference in price for various room types and extras. This complexity often resulted in the traveller booking the cheapest rate plan more than half of the time in order to complete the booking process quicker rather than understanding whether it was the most suitable deal for them.

Instead, ABS takes the existing rate plans provided by hotels and unbundles them to create à la carte options – making it easier for travellers to compare the cost of the room along with extras they can add to their reservation.

Our experience is that it works both for travellers and hotels. Expedia Group’s new technology converts hotel rate plans into an ABS experience for the traveller, the first OTA to offer ABS at scale. It has already shown encouraging signs for hoteliers.

Combined with machine-learning room recommendations, ABS has driven a 4.1 percent shift to more premium rooms and rates. Early indications have also shown increases in conversion when the ABS layout is shown to the traveller.

Smart Shopping

Make ABS work for your property

With all new technology, it can take a while to adopt but before long it will be an essential tool for any hotelier. To maximise its benefits, however, it must be used properly. Many of the rate plans we receive from hotels have some degree of inconsistency, and in these cases, rate plans will default to the legacy display. In fact, one-third of visits to our websites and apps see at least one legacy rate plan layout. 

We know ABS can help increase upsell and conversion for hoteliers, and the following steps can help them take full advantage of its capabilities.

  • Firstly, it is important that hotels create consistent attribute naming and pricing. ABS makes any inconsistencies in your rate plans much more visible to the traveller, so ensure you have a uniform rate plan structure. For example, when including an extra like parking, be clear by always naming the type (valet, self-parking, etc.) and pricing it at the same rate for each room type.
  • Secondly, hotels can offer a better digital experience by ensuring each room type has a rate plan for each possible attribute combination. For example, if a property wants to offer flexible cancellation and breakfast options, it needs to provide at least four rate plans per room type: non-refundable; refundable; non-refundable with breakfast; and refundable with breakfast.

This is only the beginning for ABS. This technology lays the foundation to unlock a wide range of new revenue opportunities as the way travellers shop for hotels continues to change.  

ABS is providing an improved traveller experience, increased revenue for hotels at no additional cost, and an innovative new shopping model for the entire hotel industry. The technology is set to move the industry forward with a new shopping model that benefits all members of the travel ecosystem.

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