June 04, 2019 –

How to increase your online bookings

Author: Alex Clough
Alex Clough
Managing Director
Photo by: wang xi

They may not know it but when booking a holiday online, every customer goes through four main stages; Awareness, Consideration, Purchase, and Delight.

Subconsciously, people will generally go from browsing online to expressing a genuine interest, completing a booking and then, telling others. Carefully curating the customer journey on your site to attract and engage their interest can help to ensure visitors complete all four stages, ultimately increasing conversion.

Below, we’ve outlined the top tips you can use at each stage of the customer journey to boost online bookings:

Awareness

Naturally, to increase the chance of conversion, you have to reel the customer in from the very beginning; help them to paint of picture of themselves at your property.

Firstly, you need to have a general understanding of who your prime customer is. For instance, are they old or young? Knowing their age matters because it will reveal which type of platform they are likely to use to visit your site. Older people will probably visit via a desktop, while younger visitors will use a mobile or tablet. If the latter is the case, then you should think about optimising your site to be mobile-first as this could reduce bounce rate.

Once your website has been tailored to the desired audience, fill it with content and imagery that will engage them. As well as making your site look aesthetically pleasing, this is a great opportunity to promote your offerings via a regular blog post. Shout about why the customer would benefit from booking with you while using carefully curated key words to organically boost your site’s search engine optimisation ranking.

Now you know who the customer is and have the content in place to entice them, it’s time to promote, promote, promote! Make sure you have a strong and established social media presence across all the main channels, especially the big three; Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Again, your target audience may prefer one network over another, so make sure you’re active and engaging across all platforms. As well as social media, push your site out on external holiday booking websites to increase awareness and, ultimately, conversion rates. Some software solution systems, such as our new reservation system, can pull all your booking information through to one central location, so each website is integrated and synchronised.

Consideration

The prospective customer is now on your site and has a rough idea of where and when they want to stay, so this is where you’ve got to make the conversion path as clear and engaging as possible with pricing, availability and logistics all easily visible.

Primarily, navigation should be user-friendly and optimised for search engines; this can significantly affect your conversion rate. By enhancing navigation and display visitors are more likely to pass the five-second test, whereby they understand exactly what you are trying to achieve within the first five seconds of visiting your website, and will stay engaged for longer.

And, in the worst-case scenario, if the customer ends up abandoning the site without making a booking, it doesn’t mean they won’t return, so make sure you capture their imagination by leaving a lasting impression. Powerful and impacting visuals in the form of photography and video will effectively make your site stand out in the minds of customers, while chatbots and email subscriptions help keep the conversation going even after the visitor has left the site.

Decision

You’ve done all the hard work in attracting the prospective customer to your site, so now it’s time to make sure all of that doesn’t go to waste. The customer wants to book their vacation with you, so you have to make it as easy as possible. Ensure you have various call-to-actions that are visible and attractive. ‘Book now’ and ‘Click for more’ buttons that are bright, big and carefully positioned will entice the visitor to follow through with their booking. Ultimately, make sure you hold their hand every step of the way.

Engaging, descriptive text can also woo the customer when done properly (remember to use those keywords for better SEO), while displaying reviews and ratings, and highlighting partners and payment providers, will demonstrate how trustworthy you are. In addition, make sure your web address is secure by having an ‘s’ after the http.

Delight

Success! Your visitor has turned into a customer and has reached the final stage; delight.

While the ultimate goal has been achieved this is still a crucial part of the customer journey as it can dramatically affect your retention base. After all, a happy customer is a returning customer.

All enquiries or issues should be dealt with swiftly and efficiently in a concise and friendly manner, and your contact details should always be visible and accessible. By having your email address and phone number readily available, customers are more likely to share them with friends and family when making referrals.

Encouraging user-generated content through the use of surveys and competitions can also boost referrals, you could even offer discounts to customers who refer you to a friend.

Overall, you should respect and acknowledge the different stages of the customer journey to ensure you maximise conversion and build a loyal retention base.

At 16i, we can help you utilise the customer journey by creating a bespoke software solution that effectively transforms your site visitors into customers. Want to know more? Contact our friendly team here.

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