Do visitors land on your website, search for available accommodation on their dates and then just leave without completing the booking? If you answer yes, then it’s time to do things a little differently.
Travel e-commerce isn’t one of the easiest businesses to run. In fact, we can both agree it is one of the trickiest online businesses. Complicated checkout processes, multiple forms, massive personalization, and many other things you have to put in place – not to talk of constantly implementing new ideas to outsmart competitors. No doubt, you are in for a whole lot.
Right now, you already know that having a booking website isn’t enough. You will have to incorporate a reliable hotel booking engine or system to do the heavy lifting for you and help your customers or guests have a seamless experience.
The hard truth is that, after you might have done all that, things might still not work in your favor. Maybe you left something undone or did it the wrong way. The problem is you are not sure what could be wrong. And that is what this piece will answer.
We will look into what you might have gotten wrong and how you can right those wrongs. If you didn’t implement an important feature or entice your customers the right way, we will also discuss that and how you can put the right strategy in place. So, what do you say? Let’s get right to it.
How good is your website’s user experience?
Arguably the most important aspect of a website is the user experience. And using simple terms, this is simply how your visitor perceives your website. How do they feel when they get to your website? Were they confused or got the navigations straight? Are there dead links or does everything works fine? These and more are the questions that user experience helps you answer.
It’s difficult to disapprove of its importance because if your website visitors don’t agree that the user experience does its job well, then you can expect no booking. It doesn’t matter the incentives you have in place, if the homepage turns them off, then they won’t go past that first page.
Anyway, how do you know if the user experience is the issue? Have a professional help you check it. A UI/UX designer, for instance, knows what appeals to users and they might just be in the best position to help you.
If that isn’t an option for you, then you can get a trusted fellow who hasn’t seen your website before to examine it. Have them share with you what they think about the website. Do they find the website appealing? Are they encouraged to go further and make bookings? Do they know where to go on the website without you telling them? Answers to these questions will help you figure out if something is wrong with your website user experience.
Your goal here will be to ensure that your booking website visitors know what to do and go ahead to make their bookings without issue. If that is solved, then something else could be wrong.
The shorter the time to booking, the better
This is true for every website; the longer it takes your visitor to get the info they need; the sooner they leave. So, what you want is to make your navigations as short as possible. While this is true, there is also a thin line.
The thing is, not many first-time visitors will make bookings. What they probably want to do is get familiarized with your website and brand before coming back at a later time to make bookings. And that is perfectly fine.
Your concern here is to ensure that even 9th-grade children can understand your website and make bookings with no external assistance. You might also want to make the booking page as accessible as possible by putting the navigation on your website’s homepage.
In the case where you need additional information before making bookings, you should make them known early enough. And if that information is negligible, you can make them optional.
Remove potential distractions
Because you are concerned with your customers making bookings and their attention span is short, it is your responsibility to remove all forms of distractions on their way. While these distractions could be anything and they could be many, there are some popular ones.
For instance, you might have noticed some e-commerce checkout pages are quite clean and have no obvious button back to a previous page. You might have also noticed those checkout pages don’t load or reload until you have input all required information.
What these businesses are doing is to remove anything that can serve as a distraction. And that is what you should do as well. You wouldn’t want to see a visitor go all the way to the checkout page and then back out. So, anything – like the ones discussed above – that can distract your website visitors should be removed.
Try desired additions like new payment options
No doubt, keeping up with new technology and payment options could be difficult. Even the most successful business will tell you this, but they might also tell you that it is one of the things that is bringing them success.
You don’t want to have your visitors think you are holding them to a payment option when they know they can get multiple options from your competitors. While you might want to hold back on opening new payment options because of the charges, you might find out the hard way that it's making you lose customers.
And if just allowing your customers to choose from a range of payment options will boost your bookings, why not go for it?
Consider experimenting with new booking options
This strategy is closely related to the last one we discussed and it’s saying, “don’t restrict your customers.” A good way to see what your customers want is to try something different and see how they react.
Do you want to offer a discount to someone who stays longer or spends the night? Do you want to offer a free spa session to customers that stay the weekend? Whatever you decide, try it out and see how your customers react.
However, if you don’t want to go that way there is something better. Ask them. Yes, ask your customers what new booking options they want and give it, that makes sense business-wise. You could create an online pool and decide on the pool.
That simple action will help you increase customer engagement while ultimately increasing your revenue.
Uncertain if something will work? Try A/B test
If you’ve heard about the A/B test before, then you shouldn’t be surprised we are bringing it up here. Well, the truth is no one knows for sure all of the strategies that will work. You have to just test with your customers and see how they will react.
If your team says implementing a new feature will increase your booking rate, there is something you can do. Test with a segment of your customers and if it increases the booking rate, then make it permanent.
Improving conversions on your booking website could be affected by a lot of things. It could be that your customers are getting better offers somewhere else. It could also be that your user experience is below par or you are too rigid with implementing new features. Whatever the issue is, the answers in this piece will help you set things right in record time.
If you are not sure of the right property management software to implement or the one you have isn’t doing the job, you should look no further than BookingNinjas. Your business will thank you for it. Check it out.