Swiss Hotels Website Insights - Summer 2020
Switzerland is obviously renowned for its excellence in hospitality but innovation is also deeply ingrained in its people minds and culture. It is famous for being one of the world's pioneers in technology engineering with two of the best universities in the world (ETH Zürich and EPFL Lausanne).
To verify that and in our quest to shed some light and transparency on the hotel technology industry, we have analysed (thanks to our proprietary website scraping technology) more than 750 independent hotels across Switzerland (French, Italian & German-speaking regions) to share some insights on the adoption of web technologies as well as the market's leading providers.
In this report, we cover five of the most predominant system categories as well as the adoption of website traffic analysis tools like Google Analytics or Hotjar. In order to provide an accurate observation of the market, we only cover software categories for which we have significant data and sample sizes. The categories include:
- Booking Engines
- E-Reputation & Review Marketing Tools
- Website Conversion Tools & Direct Booking Technologies
- Voucher Management Systems
- Chats & Chatbots
The first "off-the-shelf" internet booking engine solution was introduced in 2005 (Techtalk.travel PMS infographic) with the rise of cloud computing platforms. In 2020, it is one of the must-haves in the independent hotel technology stack alongside the property management system and channel manager. The statistics speak for themselves when it comes to the adoption rate of this solution. More than 98% of Swiss hotels have it implemented on their website with just a couple of late adopters in rural or mountain areas. With the presence of strong national resellers, Synxis (Globres) & Simple Booking (Bocco Group) account for 40% of the market share. The rest of it is accounted for by three of the "Swiss-made" products (Hotel Spider, HotelPartner Yield Management & GHIX) and some of the market leaders in Switzerland's neighboring countries such as D-EDGE, Kognitiv, Vertical Booking or HotelNetSolutions.
One of the challenges for an independent hotel, when it comes to selecting its technology, is limiting the number of providers for each part of the value chain. One of the takeaways from this analysis is that 10,5% of hotels are having their booking engine provided by their PMS vendor (e.g. MEWS, Protel, Fidelio Suite 8, Base7Booking, Cloudbeds).
E-Reputation & Review Marketing Tools
There is no debate when it comes to the presence and importance of this system category in the modern hotel technology ecosystem. Still, many independent hotels challenge its return on investment due to a lack of staff to leverage its benefits. There are several main facets to such tools:
- monitoring satisfaction & improvements areas thanks to semantic analysis
- collecting a higher volume of reviews for platforms such as Booking.com, Tripadvisor or Google my Business from guests thanks to integration partnerships
- collecting internal feedback to avoid negative reviews on prementioned public platforms
- increasing direct booking conversion rates thanks to code-free embedded widgets for Brand.com
Number 2 and 4 are "no-brainers" and can justify the investment on their own but number 1 and 3 are often perceived as time-consuming and labor-intensive for operators and therefore many of them do not implement such tools.
Still Swiss hotels, are amongst the front-runners when it comes to the adoption rate of e-reputation and review marketing tools with an impressive 27% compared to some of its neighbors like France's 14% for example.
Website Conversion Tools (Direct Booking Boosters)
Compared to other e-commerce led industries, independent hotels are still somewhat lagging behind in terms of web analytics expertise. A simple fact suffices to sustain this statement: from 750 analysed websites, only 189 (25%) have Google Analytics installed and 15 (2%) are using Hotjar.
One of the first aspects to look at before implementing a website conversion tool is the monthly traffic you are able to bring to your website. Logically, if there are no visitors to convert, these tools won't help you much. Once a hotel is hitting around 5000 visitors per month, it can start being interesting. Depending on the desired functionalities and budget, there are several alternatives out there. The simpler solutions focus on providing simple features like a price comparison widget, custom messaging and exit intent popups and rate disparity trackers. Quite recently, these specialised providers have focused their R&D efforts on personalised messaging and offers based on visitor demographics, A/B testing capabilities for hotels with significant traffic and retargeting campaigns.
In Switzerland, we see an adoption rate of 11% with the smallest hotel having 5 rooms.
Voucher Management System
Online voucher sales have been on the rise in the past couple of years. Some internet booking engines allow for package sales but still require travelers to select a specific date. With the rise of uncertainty due to COVID-19, voucher sales have allowed hotels to generate revenue and secure bookings without a date commitment from future guests. The pricing model of such tools also gives maximum flexibility to hoteliers as most of them are on a "pay as you go" model. Hotels can expect a 1,5% to 2,5% commission on each sale with no fixed subscription fee.
Swiss hotels show a nice 25% adoption rate of these platforms.
Website Chat & Chatbots
Free online website chats have been available on the market for years and offer a straightforward and self-service implementation. They allow hotels to cater to new consumer expectations of getting questions answered on the spot. Yet, our analysis shows hotels have been slow to add these tools to their website experience.
Chatbots also provide human to human interactions but allow hotels to provide instant FAQ answers to guests without the need of human intervention. On top of that, many of new-comers on the market plug their solution to the PMS or booking engine to have live availability data and enable guest to request a room directly from the chat without having to go through the whole booking engine process. Also, these tools allow hotels to provide guests with instant communication on their preferred platforms such as Whatsapp, facebook Messenger or iMessage.
In general, the adoption rate of a chat or chatbot is still quite low with not more than 5%. Still, the good news lies in the fact that from these 5%, 64% have adopted a chatbots over a simple live chat.