Do You Want More Direct Bookings, Conversions on Your Hotel Website? Stop Making These 5 Mistakes

Posted by Optimization Team at Multiplica on June 26, 2018
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On average, hotel website conversion rates (bookings per unique monthly visitor) are only two percent That means that for every 100 people who come to your site to book a room, only two complete their purchase, while the other 98 leave to book a room elsewhere. 

There are plenty of reasons why hotel websites have low conversion rates. Many of these reasons you can control or fix, and many you can't, such as availability or property location. There's no doubt that some serious competition is out there vying for your hotel website's attention, making it much more imperative to convert visitors to your site quickly before they get swooped away by an OTA or other offer.  

That's why the best hotel websites are continuously testing their sites to determine what works, what doesn't and how to fix it. Through testing, many have seen substantial increases in web visitors and in bookings.   

Although many factors determine conversion rates, we've identified five common mistakes that many hotel marketers make that can adversely affect conversion rates.

We've also put together a few solutions to improve your chances of converting website visitors into hotel guests and increase your direct booking rate. 

 1. Confusing Offers

Contrary to popular belief, most travelers are less concerned with higher-priced rooms than with a ruined travel experience because of cancellations or overbookings. Low prices won't always mean more bookings. Even so, visitors to your website want to know quickly if you're offering a package deal or special offer, and they don't want to spend precious minutes searching the site to find an answer. 

Providing an easy-to-find call to action (CTA) on the homepage will motivate them to take action and improve your conversion rates. A CTA button can get your website visitors to take a desired action; in this case, it would be to book a room(s), which will boost conversion rates and ultimately help your site achieve its goal.  

But if the only thing your visitor sees is "BOOK NOW," you aren't setting yourself apart from the hundreds of other hotel websites that are doing the exact same thing. Diversify your CTAs. Are you running a special over Memorial Day weekend? Then include a clear CTA to encourage visitors to make a booking and take advantage of the promotion. Still, keep in mind that CTAs should never be misleading or forceful. 

 2. Information overload

If your website visitors can't keep up with all of your scrolling photos, music, too many buttons, bizarre navigation or boxes of text flying at them from every corner of the site, they may leave quickly without booking a room or even checking rates.  

You may hope that having everything on one page will help you connect with potential visitors, but too much information in one place can be overwhelming and off-putting to users. Unless the information they need to book a hotel room is clean, clear, focused and easily understood, your overly cluttered site may be sending your guests to complete their reservation with your competition. 

Keep in mind that having all the necessary information clearly displayed and easily found on your site is a good thing. It helps improve search engine ratings, which drives more traffic to your site. However, if the information isn't in the right place and doesn't provide a good user experience, it could have a negative impact on conversion rates. 

3. Poor or outdated content

If the typical hotel website only has eight seconds to capture a visitor's attention, then the textual and visual content on your site better be up-to-date and compelling. The ability of your site to tell a story  either with professional photos or text  is key to increasing engagement and online conversions.  

Content should be targeted to your guest demographic, whether it be families, couples, retired folks or business elite. The more details you have about your key market, the better you can engage your guests with personalized content. That said, most people don't read content they scan for the most important information, such as rates, availability or a room promo. 

 4. Ratings, reviews, social media

Nearly 70 percent of travelers will scour as many as 20 reviews before booking a hotel online, and another 49 percent won't book a hotel if there are no reviews to check out. Reviews can generate trust and are one of the most vital aspects of any company's online presence, most notably in the online travel industry. However, remember to never fake good reviews. Guests have a way of picking up on this practice quickly. 

There are a couple of things that you can do to boost positive online reviews and fix negative reviews: 

  • Provide great service. 
  • Don't overpromise. 
  • Ensure that what your guests expect, your guests will get.  
  • Manage negative reviews and take action where improvement is needed. 
  • Ask guests to leave positive reviews. 

Like reviews, hotels that connect with potential guest via social media can form lasting relationships. Visitors are more likely to book a hotel that is familiar. A social media presence can also showcase your brand, set you apart from your competition and provide you a voice to respond to comments, feedback and reviews in real time. 

 5. Rewards/amenities

Most people want an online experience that makes them feel special. If they are a loyal customer, then rewarding them can go a long way to keeping them as buying guests. Studies show that 75 percent of all bookings on hotel websites are made by guests who are members of a reward program.  

You don't have to be a large, major brand to offer a membership program. Many smaller hotels also have some type of program in place to earn and retain frequent travelers' loyalty. 

 Beyond or in lieu of a reward program, how often a hotel offers special packages or promotions can also attract customers and win them over from the competition. It may be a discounted room rate for a weekend or a special offer awarded in partnership with a local entertainment venue. Whatever it is, people like a good deal, and offering specials are a great way to capture more direct bookings off your site and convert lookers into bookers. 

Speaking of amenities, does your hotel offer a complimentary breakfast? Is there a restaurant on-site or nearby? Do you have a pool, jacuzzi or hot tub? Knowing that your hotel offers more than just a clean, comfortable room may encourage visitors to check in, unpack and stay awhile. 

4 WAYS TO IMPROVE CONVERSIONS

So, what are a few solutions to fix these issues and improve your chances of converting website visitors into hotel guests? 

  1. Place a clear and obvious CTA in plain sight on every page, and make it easy for potential guests to connect with you by requiring limited information on your contact form and a phone number visible in the upper right-hand corner of your website. Provide a blog on your site, and if you don't have a presence on social media, get one.
  2. Provide your website visitors with well-organized navigation and utilize no more than seven links on your homepage. Only use professional, high-quality photography, limit videos and music and keep content short (no more than about 200 words on your homepage) but relevant. 
  3. Make sure that your website is SEO-optimized and that title tags don't exceed 65 characters in length, with keywords repeated once every 150 words. Make sure your website functions across all platforms so booking online or on a mobile device, such as a phone or tablet, is easy and straightforward. 
  4. The design of your site is as important as content. Some marketers would say even more so. With more and more people booking reservations on their mobile devices, your website must be intuitive and mobile-friendly. Are the photos professionally done to highlight the quality of your rooms and services? Do the navigation buttons feel clunky, or are there distracting flashes that keep visitors from making a reservation? If your content is not optimized for mobile, you're missing out on a large segment of the market. 

The Takeaway

The hotel market is fiercely competitive. Price isn't always the determining factor when booking a room. Confusing offers, too much information, outdated content, subpar photography, poor reviews that are left unanswered and no social media presence or rewards programs can all lead guests to book elsewhere. Fortunately, many of these mistakes are easy to identify and correct. 

We can help!

However, if you're stumped as to why visitors aren't converting to guests, you may need the help to determine what needs to go and how to keep you booked at maximum capacity. Multiplica's 120+ team members work every day to strengthen online marketing strategies for hotels and the hospitality industry. We can help grow your digital presence, turning visitors into guests and giving you the attention that you deserve to turn mistakes into opportunities for growth.  

Give us a shout at optimization@multiplica.us 

 

Topics: Travel Industry Optimization, Travel, Digital and Media Marketing, Test and Optimization, Travel Industry, AB Testing, User Experience, Optimization