How small tourism companies can increase their online bookings
Many travellers are reporting frustration with the online booking process and are in many cases going offline to make their purchases. Are your turning away potential sales? Let’s discuss a few ways you can put you best food forward and increase those online bookings.
It’s not secret that more and more travellers are feeling comfortable making travel bookings online – and are doing so in droves. Travel bookings in the US alone were up 12% to US$ 105 billion last year (source: emarketer.com September 2008). However, many travellers are reporting frustration with the online booking process and are in many cases going offline to make their purchases. Are your turning away potential sales? Let’s discuss a few ways you can put you best food forward and increase those online bookings.
Don’t violate the golden rules
From the beginning of the process where the customer is researching options and reading about the experience, to the technical portion of payments and reservation confirmations, you should abide by three key principles which should apply to every step:
· Don’t make it difficult. If a customer is ready to buy, is it easy to click and do so? If they need help or have questions, is all of your contact information up to date and easy to find?
· Don’t make it obnoxious. Flashing lights, spinning widgets, and videos that start unannounced don’t make the sale. Clear, informative content does.
· Don’t make it scary. Have you reassured your client that you have appropriate data protection policies in place? Did you tell them that you won’t sell their email address to spammers? I know you won’t do that, but does your customer know?
If your user feels frightening or uneasy at any point during the process, they’ll abandon ship and you’ll lose the sale. So be sure to think about each and every step and ask yourself those same questions along the way.
Great Content will close the deal
We touched earlier on content that doesn’t sell: flashy, loud, obnoxious content. You need quality materials in order to convince your customer that you’re the experience they want.
Looking at your online content, does it:
· explain the products/services you are offering in easy-to-read language
· illustrate options and flexibility, if any answer the question “is this right for you” (or alternatively “this isn’t right for you if…”)
· have testimonials or comments from previous/current customers
Less is more in this case, but don’t be afraid to explore using a combination of text, photos, and video to clearly and succinctly show off your product or service.
Get an external opinion
One difficult problem we face as small businesses is that we’re doing everything and sometimes we’re too close to our work to notice things that could be causing problems. Usually just a “tweak” or two is all that is needed! So ask someone external to the process to test and give you feedback.
Why not give a good friend a coupon code to make their reservation cost only a few pennies and have them walk through the process and send you input? Or how about asking one of your business partners to spend a few minutes using your website and then making some suggestions for improvement? The key is to get someone detached and able to see everything from a fresh perspective. But you need someone who will give you honest feedback; a close family member who stumbles through the process and then says “oh, it’s great” isn’t going to help. If you can’t get honest feedback, then you can pay for a professional review with someone like myself or a usability expert. Either way, get an external opinion.