Encourage Direct Bookings Through a Positive User Experience
Direct bookings consistently coming straight from your hotel’s website— sounds like quite the dream. Unfortunately, more often than not, this is not always the reality of the situation.
NB: This is an article from Blue Magnet
According to Jean-Louis Boss at FastBooking, the national average for a hotel’s booking rate conversion in 2019 is around two percent, and is continuously dropping. According to invesp, industries that are selling a product online will continue to see dropped conversion rates, just as they have been for the last five years. In the infographic below, you can see the steady downhill trend.
Source: Statistics via invespcro.com, “The Average Website Conversion Rate by Industry.”
However, there are proven fundamentals that will help drive those direct bookings more efficiently and help your hotel come out on top. Having a focused strategy for your hotel website is a step in the right direction. You must lead potential guests to take action and book directly, without being too pushy. Here are some tried and true tricks that can help make sure that your hotel website is driving quality traffic and consistent bookings.
Promote A Positive User Experience
- Goals Then Design
A site should be made with purpose and intent. First, outline your goals; from there, determine how your website’s navigation should be laid out. User experience also plays a large role in how many positive responses a site will get, and in return direct bookings. According to a case study done by sweor, people generally form an opinion on your website within .05 seconds; immediately, as your site loads and their eyes meet the landing page, a judgment is made. Lure potential guests with emotion-evoking imagery and then make them stay with a user-friendly experience.
- Booking Button
Another important piece to the puzzle is making your call to action easily visible. Highlight the booking button by making the color pop or using a bold font so that potential guests can locate it immediately. This simple hack can streamline the booking process, encouraging more website conversions. It is also important to remember to keep the booking button consistent throughout all pages on your hotel’s site. Place the ‘Book Now’ button in the same location on every page so it serves as a subtle reminder to users as they navigate through your website.
Simple will always trump complex. Do not overwhelm guests with too many options because analysis paralysis is real. For example, similar to how a restaurant menu that has too many options can be impossible to navigate and frustrating, overwhelming potential guests with too many steps in the booking process or multiple calls to action can deter them from booking. Overall simplicity in design is effective. A clean design, as seen in the below example, is inviting and welcomes potential guests to your site with open arms.
- Mobile Friendly
Make sure that your hotel’s website is responsive; this way, potential guests have a pleasant user experience no matter what device they are using. According to Steffan Berelorwitz at TravelTripper 28% of people are using their phones to book hotels and trips in 2019, which makes a mobile-friendly site a necessity. That number is only growing as younger generations gain more trust in the internet and have constant access to cell phones. Regardless of age, people are always on the go and want to be able to find where to book on your site as quickly and easily as possible. In the photo below, you can see a prime example of a mobile responsive website that keeps the call to action prominent within a mobile design.
Less Talking, More Listening
- FAQs Page
Listen to the wants and needs of your current and potential guests. Consumers are more likely to keep searching for the information they seek versus picking up the phone to call and ask. For example, if a guest is arriving before check-in and they need to know if they can store their luggage with your hotel, they will likely first look for this information on your website. If your hotel has an up-to-date “Frequently Asked Questions” page, that will most likely be a question you have answered or should answer. Otherwise, the potential guest might go looking elsewhere for that information and book a neighboring hotel over yours. The more relevant information you provide about your hotel, the more likely a potential guest will choose your hotel over competitors. If you are consistently responding to people with valuable feedback, guests will feel heard and valued.
- Reputation Management
According to TripAdvisor 96% of people consider reading reviews before booking. It is almost guaranteed that if your hotel’s offered rate is the same as another in the area, the potential guest will compare reviews, and stay at the hotel with a higher rating. If you feature positive reviews on your website, potential guests will start to trust you. The more trust that is built, the more likely they are to book with your hotel.
Convey An Experience
- Unique Activities or Packages
Your hotel offers more than just a place to stay, it offers an experience. Show that there is more to do on property than just lounging in a guest room. People are constantly looking for things to do, activities to keep them busy, and entertainment during their stay. Treat your hotel website as an oasis that conveys the phenomenal service you offer on property. Be descriptive and tell a story through creative copy and quality imagery. Your hotel is anything but ordinary. What sets you apart? Why should guests stay here instead of elsewhere?
- Professional Photography
Display beautiful imagery throughout your site, but specifically on the home page. Paying for professional photography is worth the investment. Guests want to dream about the beautiful getaway they are about to book. Not only should your website imagery be alluring, but your copy should be descriptive. Outline exactly what a stay would be like and what travelers will be paying for. Details can win potential guests over.
- Reveal Price
Reveal your price sooner rather than later. No one likes to feel like they have been fooled. Be upfront with your price, and confident that it is the best price offered, or at least equal. As direct site prices usually are, make sure to emphasize that this is the best-guaranteed rate.
Utilize Conversion Assistants: Widget
- Simple Application
Using a widget can simplify the direct bookings process and helps make the guest’s choice that much easier. The functionality of a widget is priceless and embedding them is well worth the investment. Booking widgets have various capabilities and the beauty of it all is that you can customize yours based on what you want to charge.
Where To Start?
It is easy to get caught up in the details, without thinking of the big picture, when it comes to your hotel website. A lot of these tips are small tasks that can be accomplished one by one. Start brainstorming a few user-friendly strategies that will help you create a master plan for a simple, mobile-friendly website that drives revenue.
Follow these steps and your site’s direct bookings will increase considerably.