Challenges of tourism online distribution
One of the greatest challenges tourism technology companies work on is the quality of results display for internet searches made through their booking engines.
Users have a greater chance of completing the purchase, or converting the booking, when the information they receive through their screens offers clear and organized options. In other words, the purchase decision depends largely on the user experience (UX).
Tourism companies know this and are very focused on offering optimal results in the booking systems of their Websites. To be competitive in the distribution of accommodation and other online tourism services, they have to take measures to increase their conversion ratio. That is why they require their booking technology suppliers to develop software to improve the results of travel searches.
The problem of duplicate hosting results
Working with multiple accommodation supply channels is positive for both the company, that increases its chances of selling, and the user, who has more variety of rooms and hotels to choose from. However, receiving such an extensive offer from different issuers raises problems: in the B2B business, there is a large number of XML connections, but the suppliers are specialized in distribution, not content.
The results of the accommodation search yield a lot of information and options. When a tourist intermediation company works with different suppliers that provide rooms availability, it is common that, in the search results, the same rooms of the same hotels appear with different names and prices.
This happens because there is not an internationally standardized and unified system to name each type of room and board type, which gives rise to a varied terminology that leads to confusion in accommodation searches. Let’s see here a sample of room names used by different hotel chains or tourist accommodation:
Single, Double single use, Double, Twin double, Standard double, Double twin, Connecting room, Quad, Queen, Triple, King, Double room, Triple room, Junior Suite, Suite, Presidential Suite, Studio suite, Duplex, Studio room, Studio apartment, Premium, Superior…
The user receives a jumble of confusing results that could actually be summarized in three or four types of rooms. Let’s see how.
The solution: Room Mapping
As seen in the previous section, an overwhelming amount of information, resulting from duplication of data, confuses and demotivates clients who end up withdrawing from the booking process.
The solution that tourism technology has developed to remedy such a problem is the process of mapping the rooms to remove duplicates.
According to the dictionary, mapping means to locate and graphically represent the relative distribution of the parts of a whole, like genes in chromosomes. Applied to the case of hotel rooms, the mapping analyses the rooms returned by a search, assigns identification codes and finds out which are actually the same one.
This is what Room Mapping does: it identifies the rooms through different parameters and detects (maps) which are the same, removing duplicate results and displaying a clear list sorted by price. Then, it uses complex filters to display the results depending on the user’s preferences.
One of the keys to achieve this, is to reduce the cognitive effort of the user to ease decision making, something the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002, Daniel Kahneman, delved into. The psychological processes that influence the purchasing process are very complex, but it is demonstrated that the display quality of the information from which the decision will be made is a determining factor. And functionalities such as Room Mapping are also decisive to make the process end in the sale of the product.