Is your hotel’s booking engine not delivering the desired amount of reservations? How are you assessing its performance?
Your website’s visitors go through several steps before they decide to book. These involve researching availability of rooms and dates, facilities, reading reviews and extra options. Then the booking process itself takes time and attention, with users making their selection choice, entering personal data, payment details and the final confirmation.
Each of these steps can lose you customers; some of the usual suspects are issues with usability, losing trust of the customers, errors on pages, unattractive design. Here are three essential steps to improve the track and improve user experience and turn visits to bookings.
1. Choose a web analytics solution for your hotel website.
Google’s Analytics is one service that provides advanced web metrics. Its role is to analyze the performance of your website’s pages the moment users enter your site and exit. It points out where in the process of booking your users abandon the site. Although they do not tell you the causes for users’ actions, they do hold enough insights to allow correct identification and improvement.
2. Optimize landing page.
How do users get on your website? What is the first page they see?
Users can enter your site via search results, following a pay-per-click campaign or by following a link from your social media account or the newsletter you just sent.
Often, it is advisable to provide different landing pages for each of these sources. For example, if you had a special offer running on your social media accounts, introduce the users that click it directly to that offer. To land them on the homepage is a sure path to a high bounce rate, because users will not want to waste time looking for your offer on the website. Similarly, a good SEO strategy should take the users from their respective terminology search to the relevant content in your website. If you show up in their results for a “boutique hotel in Amsterdam May 2013” , make sure to lead them to this query within your website as well.
Regardless of the customized landing page, smart design is always mandatory, as users often form opinions on the first impressions of your website.
3. Optimize your users’ experience.
Once users are on your hotel’s website and start exploring, the rule is to convert their visits to bookings. A few tips on how to improve usability and increase the booking rate:
- Clearly define the check-out steps from booking search to payment. One suggestion is to use a progress indicator bar to inform the user of his booking steps. Make the transition from one step to another with intuitive commands, such as “enter your details”, “proceed to payment” and “confirm payment”.
- Allow backtracking of the booking application. A high abandonment rate occurs when the user is forced to start the booking process again, simply because returning to a previous step of the booking process isn’t possible.
- Consider adapting usability on a number of devices: laptops, mobiles, iPads. This allows you to target both leisure and business segments and increase your reach significantly. Take into account that booking via small-screen devices need to adapt accordingly, i.e. use more click/touch functionalities.
If your hotel’s booking engine isn’t performing to your expectations, this means somewhere along the way you are losing customers due to poor website experience.
Issues can be as simple as an error page at the final payment step, as well as a matter of inefficient strategies applied to any of steps detailed aboved.
The first part of the solution is using web analytics to monitor the website’s functionality. The second employs expertise in interpreting the statistics and proposing alternative solutions. Both are essential in providing steady improvement until your website is fully optimized and reaches its sales target.