A guest blog by Julia Serdiuk

If you are in the tour and activity business, you cannot survive without an online booking system. Today, almost nobody books their tours in an old-school way by visiting an agency. Most reservations are made online with the global number of bookings being just under 150 million every year.

Still, you may be hesitant about turning your website into your own booking platform. You might ask yourself, why bother if the market is dominated by such heavyweights as Booking.com, Airbnb, and Expedia? True, however, using a reservation system may be the best solution if you offer local or niche experiences and don’t want your tours and activities to be lost among thousands of others. Besides, implementing a direct booking system may even bring more customers to you.

However, all this does not happen on its own and you’ll need to work hard to get more conversions on your website. In this article, we’ll provide you with the best strategies that you can use in building your online booking journey for the best results and, ultimately, engaging more clients.

What is a conversion in online booking?

Generally, a conversion is making the customer do what you want them to do. Depending on the industry, different actions may be regarded as a conversion: a click on an ad, a visit to the website, a view of a product, a subscription, or a purchase. All types of conversions help to turn prospects into clients, but in the online booking journey, they may have a special goal in mind.

For tour operators, the conversion rate is the percentage of website visitors who make a booking. The average conversion rate for the travel industry is about 2-3%, with 4% considered to be very good. These are the benchmarks you need to aim for, and we are going to help you get there.

How to optimize your booking website to boost conversions

We have gathered some best practices for booking website optimization that can bring you more conversions.

1. Analyze your users’ journey

Before you start changing anything, take some time to analyze your booking website and find where your visitors leave you. This is where you might want to improve something.

  • If your visitors leave shortly after opening your home page without browsing your listings, it may be an indication of bad design, poor performance, slow loading, or counter-intuitive navigation
  • If users check availability but do not make a booking, your prices may be too high
  • If users start a booking and abandon it in the middle of the process, the form may be too complicated and require too many personal details
  • If users drop off during checkout, it may signal that your payment methods are not secure enough

Identifying the problem is already half a solution. When you know what may be wrong, you know what to improve.

2. Place customer support tools strategically

Sometimes, to lead the visitor to conversion, you need to give them a bit of support along the way. See where they might experience difficulties and place a live chat, messenger, or another support widget there. If your website visitor delays at a certain point, a window should pop up and offer support and assistance (see this guide for chat script ideas.)

If you have a phone contact center, you can include this option, too. Make sure you support an IVR system to improve the calling experience. In addition, always keep a separate email account for support issues. Today, it is not difficult to manage email accounts, if you use advanced tools.

increase conversion rate by providing customer support

Using an appropriate support channel may prevent visitors from dropping off before converting. Your chatbot, support page, or customer service team can clear their doubts and resolve the issues that might keep them from making the buying decision.

3. Optimize for mobile

Smartphones and mobile devices have become almost indispensable nowadays, with close to 60% of the global web traffic going through mobile phones. At the same time, the travel industry somewhat falls behind, with only 44% of bookings made on mobile devices. The reason may be that people consider booking a tour, holiday, or accomodation a “major” purchase and prefer a larger screen for that.

However, this may be another reason for lost conversions. If a person needs to switch to a desktop to finish their booking, chances are they do not return to you. The solution is the optimization of your website for mobile devices so that the experience is as complete and clear as that on a desktop:

  • Make sure your website is responsive and performing properly. It should load quickly on mobile devices and show your home page clearly
  • Optimize your website. Remove all the clutter, avoid popup windows covering the content, and make navigation as straightforward as possible
  • Simplify your booking process. Make it as simple as one-two-three. Keep forms to the minimum, reduce the number of required steps, and implement one-page checkout. An efficient booking system can help you streamline your flows

One more thing worth mentioning is that different markets may have different prices or availabilities for the same tours. Many tourists know about it and use Android or iPhone VPN settings to overcome regional restrictions and enjoy the best offers available

4. Lean on visuals

At the end of the day, you’re selling great experiences, so make sure you include as much visual content as possible. It’s merely impossible for travelers to book a hotel room if they don’t see the hotel interior and premises. So, make sure to include high-quality photos and videos that give your customers an idea of your tours and activities.

visually appealing websites will increase conversion rate
At the same time, do not overdo the visuals. Too many images, animations, and bright colors can make your website look cluttered and unattractive. Find the right balance between visual and textual content, which is also very important. You need to describe your services in the best way possible, all while providing all the important details. Prepare a good content brief for your writers to have the best descriptions of your offerings.

5. Implement a loyalty program

Loyalty programs are great conversion boosters. No matter how you organize your loyalty program – with rewards, points, or discounts – it will be a stimulus for your customers to continue shopping with you.

Set up your website to detect cases when your loyalty program members browse but do not complete the purchase. Follow up with an email reminding them that the offer they looked up is still available. Such a reminder can make the customer return and, at least, browse your website once again. Often, they may complete the booking at the end of the day.

Make sure to offer something valuable to your loyal customers. You can have a progressive discount system with higher discounts offered to customers who have collected a certain number of points. Alternatively, you can make exclusive “package” offers – a discount on car rental together with hotel reservation, a “buy 2 – get 3” deal, or similar – to members of your loyalty program.

6. Use social proof

What do people look up on a travel website after the price? The reviews. They have a significant effect on the booking decision. 84% of customers trust peer reviews above everything else. This is why you need to invite and encourage customer reviews on your booking website.

Also, don’t forget about social media. Today, social media presence is a must-have if you want to be recognized and trusted. With smart social media marketing tactics, you can make your followers your loyal customers who, in turn, will promote your services by describing their experiences on their pages.

The combined effect of user reviews and social media may lead to higher trust resulting in higher customer confidence when they shop with you. All in all, it leads to social media growth and brand trust.

Ready to take your booking system to a new level?

The 6 strategies within this article can help you bring more traffic to your website and boost your conversions. Try mixing and matching them to find the configuration that works best for you. The main thing is to make your customer happy with their booking experience. Their visit to your website should become the beginning of a wonderful holiday – easy, pleasant, and exciting.

Now that you know the 6 tips for boosting your conversion rate, you’ll need tools to help you process those conversions quickly. By using an online booking system, not only will you be streamlining your admin duties, you’ll be simplifying your customer’s booking journey as well.

For instance, Rezdy is an online booking system that provides you with advanced features to automate the booking process. These features include the likes of real-time availability viewer, automatic communication and updates, and secure integration with various payment gateways.

Curious to see how Rezdy can fit within your business? Start your FREE 21-day trial or book a demo today.

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Written By – Julia Serdiuk – Outreach Specialist, Helpcrunch

Julia Serdiuk is an Outreach Specialist at HelpCrunch, an innovative platform to build relationships with customers. She is a seasoned traveler and yoga enthusiast who appreciates life and believes in the cloudless future of our planet.

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