4 ways to drive MORE direct bookings on your website
By KELLY Springett
The travel industry is fragmented, but that doesn’t mean you can’t grab a piece of the pie. In the online space, that grab starts with the website.
No channel is more profitable than your own website, and that website should be driving the most bookings for you with [online travel agencies] supplementing it.
However, throwing anything and everything on the website won’t convert lookers to bookers. Instead, here are four tips to help drive direct bookings—and profits.
1: Tell a Unique Story
Your website is a digital storefront and you need to distinguish what sets you apart from the competition. You can do that by telling a unique story on your website. It’s the one one thing that OTAs cannot do.
Your website should use visual storytelling to create an emotional connection with travellers. Words, images and captions can be used to tell the story. High-quality images are crucial because 65 percent of people are visual learners and photos have the ability to convey a story quickly and effectively.
It’s important to be authentic and genuine when telling the story in order to create the emotional connection.
Stories conjure up memories and develop an emotional connection with a travel shopper. Adding that emotion has a big influence on whether travellers will make a booking.
Whilst Discovr is not a website development service, at times we do offer a total rebuild at no cost. Why? Continuity, results but most importantly the data. When you have an older website it can be hard to analyse your website traffic and their intent to make a booking. In turn making your retargeting less defined. A fast, modern website that is built for conversion can be the difference between 4x ROI and 12x ROI on ad spend.
An example of story telling is our recent website build for Blacksand Tours. They, as many smaller operators, were using a Website Builder which looked pretty but lacked the fundamentals to truly understand their audience to create a controllable and personable booking journey.
Simon Sinek and his Start With Why – delivers the message of digital story telling perfectly. Take 15 minutes, cup of coffee (wine for you evening readers) and listen to a keynote that has definitely been the focus for all we do here at Discovr.
2: Lead with Experience focussed Photos and Images
We’ve run campaigns for more than twenty-five thousand pages and found that the highest engagement was with operators that put experience related photos above the fold.
Travel shoppers want to see where they will be staying, what they’ll be doing, but most importantly, they want to see how they’ll feel. Help them imagine they are already there.
I think our own company director, Darren put this perfectly in a recent interview when he said, “Stop Taking Pictures. Start Taking Photos.
So, what’s the difference? In the traditional sense, a “picture” and a “photo” mean pretty much the same thing.
To me, these two words illustrate the difference between the first and second image above. Taking a picture is seeing something with your eyes and capturing that moment with a camera.
Taking a photo acknowledges the difference between being somewhere and seeing somewhere. Taking a photo is understanding that our fully immersive experience has no direct mapping to a 13″ computer screen.
3: Provide Social Proof
Travellers want evidence that others are staying at the hotel or doing your tour before they book. We call it social proof, or independent third-party feedback. Examples include guest reviews, awards and star ratings.
Good reviews will translate to more bookings because 76 percent of shoppers will pay more for a hotel with better reviews, as cited in TrustYou research. Likewise, 53 percent of travellers won’t book without first reading reviews, according to Phocuswright.
With modern widget’s it is easy to embed third party reviews on your website. Don’t give travel shoppers a reason to leave your site to search for reviews because you risk them not coming back to you.
4: Optimise the Mobile Site
In 2016, 60 percent of travel searches and one-fifth of bookings were made on mobile devices. That’s why your website needs to not just be optimised for mobile but built on a mobile-first strategy to drive direct bookings.
In 2018, more so than ever, we are seeing the shift where travellers use mobile and trust mobile beyond their desktop machines. According to Google, two thirds of travellers under 45 are more inclined to booking an entire trip on a smartphone, while one third of travellers over 45 are doing the same.
This is especially true for those already travelling, where 76% are actively building they’re itineraries on the go via a mobile device with little reliance or need of a desktop machine.
Reimagine your booking journey in ways that benefit the user – a lacklustre user experience, information overloads, and over complicated mobile layouts are the main reasons that operators are falling short with mobile users.
Focus on a fast and frictionless experience that lets your mobile audience discover the most relevant information that relates to them as an individual.