As with all things in the hospitality business, no matter how good your website might be, there’s always room for improvement, especially when it comes to conversion rates. Indeed, converting website visitors into actual, paying guests is both a science and an art and should be taken extremely seriously. After all, simply boosting a conversion rate from two per cent to three per cent might not mean much, but this could potentially mean hundreds, if not thousands more guests a year. So, how do you encourage a prospective guest to go from simply reading all about your hotel to actually making a reservation?
Here are just a few, tried and tested, simple but effective ways of boosting your online conversion rates:
Invest in a little trial and error
The secret to getting conversion rates as high as possible lies in testing. And not just a one-off test, but in regular consistent tests aimed at seeing what’s working and what’s not. If you’re launching a new website, or simply revamping your existing one, then you should invest some time and effort in what’s known as A/B testing (otherwise known as split testing). As the name suggests, this is where you create two different examples of the same web page. So, you might want to experiment with the main image on the homepage. Specialist A/B testing software packages will then let you see which version has been the most successful in encouraging visitors to take action while also, conversely, showing you what hasn’t worked and needs to be ditched. While there are some things you can do yourself, A/B testing can be a little complicated, so this might be one area of your online business where you may want to invest in some outside expert help.
Give the guest all the information they might need
Nothing annoys a web-savvy consumer more than having to search hard for useful information, whether it’s the price of a room or the exact location of your hotel. And, unsurprisingly, annoyed consumers tend to take their business elsewhere, leaving your website before they have made a booking. This is where good webpage design comes in. Make sure that your site is not only easy to navigate but that all the relevant information is up and clearly-displayed. This means crisp and clear typefaces, easy-to-read headers and no small, hidden text. One other good tip for making sure that you don’t lose a confused or lost prospect is to install a live chat facility. This way, a potential customer can simply chat live with one of your reservations team, with studies showing that this method of engagement almost always leads to improved conversion rates.
Give prospective guests a Call to Action
From charities to huge global corporations, everyone now knows the power of a ‘call to action’ button, especially when it comes to boosting engagement and increasing conversion rates. Quite simply, all you need to do is create a little button urging a visitor to your webpage to do something. Keep it short, sweet snappy (‘Book your room today!’) and make sure the button is easily noticeable on your homepage. Again, you may want to carry out a little trial and error testing to see which location and design works best.
Don’t be afraid to blow your own trumpet
Your website is no place to be modest! If you have any notable achievements or accolades, this is the place to let the world know! For instance, if your hotel belongs to any prestigious associations, make sure their logos are clearly displayed on your homepage. Likewise, if you have won any notable travel industry awards, be loud and proud about these, too, and make sure all visitors to your website know all about your accomplishments. Many hotels, especially smaller ones, also make sure that positive guest reviews are displayed on the site, too, as this could be the difference between a potential guest dithering and actually making a confirmed booking. At the same time, you should also make it clear that yours is a website that can be trusted. Countless studies have shown that many consumers have second thoughts and exit a site even when they’ve made it through to the ‘checkout’, and one key reason for this is that they are often wary of sharing their credit card details with an unknown business. One quick and easy way of ensuring these uncertain travellers do actually go through with a potential transaction, then, is to make sure your security credentials are clearly displayed.
Stand out from the crowd
Any business needs to appear better than their competitors, including hotels. After all, the chances are that a visitor to your website will be looking at other sites too as they shop around to find the right accommodation provider for them. It literally does pay, therefore, to stand out from the crowd. Use your website to offer something your rivals don’t.
Perhaps set up a useful blog telling guests about local attractions or events at your venue, or use your site to offer guests making a booking special rates. Make a would-be guest feel special, and they’re far more likely to make a booking rather than hitting the ‘back’ button and checking into a rival establishment for the night.