Providing a seamless booking experience to increase conversion rate
Conversion rate is a critical metric in digital marketing, including hotel e-commerce. It is essential for hotel management teams to understand how efficiently an e-commerce system can turn visitors into paying customers. In the hotel industry, conversions which occur directly on the hotel website are among the most valuable both in terms of ADR and net ADR, so it is important for hoteliers to master the procedures of providing an excellent booking experience.
Top reasons for low conversion rate on hotel websites:
The hotel industry, especially independent hotels tend to be late-adopters of web design trends, technologies and sometimes even common sense, so it is not surprising that some typical conversion killer mistakes remain unsolved.
Hotel websites are very often not mobile friendly
- Subpar visual and textual presentation of the product
- Booking forms are way too complicated
- Uninspiring room descriptions
- Complicated rate structures
Simple steps to improve conversion rate
So, now that the reasons have been outlined, the question is, how do we overcome these difficulties?
1. Make your website accessible and fast enough on any device. The information and pictures need to be loaded quickly and adjusted to the display size of the device. Over and above that, the website needs to have minimal details; although it might be tempting to give long descriptions to make sure customers understand what you offer, this tends to backfire as website users get tired of reading. Real visuals from your hotel go down much better!
2. Site loading speed is another aspect which affects whether or not customers will stay on your website. Sites need to have an optimal target of 2 seconds loading time or less. Studies show that even just one-second delays can have 7% less conversion rate.
3. Stop distracting your customers. Even if you have an offer or an important event coming up at your hotel, do give it a priority, but make sure it doesn’t distract users from completing the booking. If your ultimate aim is to have people book your hotel directly, then lead them directly to that page by having a visible ‘’Book Now’’ button that goes straight to the booking form.
Once a customer is ready to complete the booking form, there are 2 things which will send them straight back to third-party booking websites:
1. Unnecessary steps: at this stage, you do not need to ask customers where they heard about your hotel or if they want to receive promotion news from you. Although it’s important information, you can ask for that information at a later stage when they are satisfied with the overall service you are offering.
2.No progress bars and auto-fill options: Users, especially those on mobile devices are very likely to have to stop filling a form halfway through due to other distractions. If at that point the information they filled in gets lost and they have to start from scratch, it is highly likely that they will not come back. A progress bar will show the customers that they are close to completing the form and it can also save the information in previous sections if one needs to step away for some time.
If you do decide to revamp your site and booking process, that’s a great FIRST step. Why is it the first step, you may ask. The answer is simple - Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your website. To get the ultimate results you’re looking for, you need to test the website, get others to test it and then test it again. Rough edges and unnecessary processes need to be improved. Simple things like phone numbers being rejected because of a missing space, complicated password choices and confirming that the user is not a robot by asking him/her to pass three different tests, will certainly kill any potential that user may have.
Offer ways to get in touch
Last but not least, remember that the world is changing and the way people communicate is too. You can have a great website and booking process, but the moment a customer has a question and they can’t find immediate online customer support, they will abandon the process. The digital world is a fast one and it has increased customer expectations which include:
- Presence on various social channels such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and LinkedIn
- Possibility to communicate via these channels
- Possibility to communicate with a representative through a chat box on the website
- Getting a clearer picture of what your hotel offers by looking at reviews and pictures on your social channels
All of these aspects will help in, not only having a seamless booking experience but also in decreasing reasons why customers complain. Ultimately, it’s important to keep in mind the importance of personalization. Customers want to feel valued so make sure that you keep the information they give you for when they come back. Also, ensure that your payment process shows that it’s secure and that a confirmation of payment and booking is sent immediately so you don’t leave people wondering whether the form has gone through or not.