Don’t Leave me Hanging: Optimising your Site to Avoid Abandoned Bookings
People visiting a website and beginning a direct booking but giving up before finishing is one of the banes of an independent hotelier’s existence; or, at least, if you don’t think it is, you probably should. Because here’s a staggering, frankly frightening statistic: in 2014 it was estimated almost $1.78 trillion of revenue was lost by hotels to abandoned bookings. And now, at least two years on, just imagine how high that figure must be! So what can you do about it? Well, what you ought to aim for is – in industry parlance – to ‘optimise’ your checkout. That is, give potential bookers no reason whatsoever to abandon a booking once they’ve started. Here are some tips…
Turn lookers into bookers
One of the most critical issues is that, according to research, half of all browsers of hotel websites aren’t looking to book there and then; they literally are browsing. Apparently, this ensures that the time it takes for ‘sale conversion’ is double in the travel industry compared to retail. What can you do to reduce this habit among visitors to your hotel’s site – get them to book direct all in one visit?
Well, make sure your site’s brimming with visuals (imagery and videos); you’ve absolutely got to show off the quality of your property both within and out – and its location. Remember, the appeal of a hotel’s appearance and locale is subjective to each individual traveller (if yours is on an airport’s doorstep, don’t hide that fact under a bushel!). Also, be a storyteller; paint a beautiful picture of what a stay at your hotel will be like for every guest – convey the real value of coming to the place, staying there and enjoying local amenities through quality content (text and visuals).
Is the price right?
If more than four in every 10 visitors to a hotel’s site are regularly abandoning bookings because they deem the price too high (as statistics claim), then hoteliers have got to do something about it. But does that mean the kneejerk reaction of slashing prices? Not necessarily. Be marketing-savvy; if you’re not already doing so, you’ve got to take advantage of promotions for specific demographics that are a goldmine for your property at different times in the year – and then, via the digital marketing mix (social media, email shots and app alerts, for instance), make sure you publicise them. And be smart when it comes to your site’s look – employ the best hotel website design techniques here, such as putting a special offers menu tab or a promo code in relevant, prominent places so they’ll catch the eye and entice your potential bookers.
Keep it simple!
Finally, this one’s pretty obvious when you think about it, but easy to overlook – 13% of hotel site users abandon a booking when they find the process itself too long-winded and/ or complicated. Indeed, 10% will leave if they feel there’s just one, single unnecessary field during the booking process!
Think about it; people like to book and buy online because they assume it’ll be fast, efficient and easy. If your site’s confronting them with page upon page to trawl through as they book, with so much fierce competition out there they’re inevitably going to give up and go elsewhere. Your site’s design needs to be simple, appealing and full of clarity when it comes to bookings – that means calls-to-action for when and where people need to click and no messages (i.e. subscriptions to newsletters or social media ads) cluttering up the place where they simply don’t need to be.