As the end of the year quickly approaches, it’s a good time to start thinking about how you plan to capture more leads and drive more conversions through your website in 2018. As a property manager, it’s important to recognize that your website isn’t meant to be a static brochure for your business—instead, it should be used as a tool for boosting awareness, educating travelers, qualifying traffic, nurturing leads, and helping people make the right choices when it comes to deciding where to stay during their upcoming trip.
If your property website didn’t perform as well as you expected in 2017, it might be time to make some changes.
Not sure where to start or what to focus on? Here are 8 conversion-driven website components that could help you boost online reservations and profits for your business in the year ahead:
1. Points of Interest
When it comes to persuading travelers to book a stay at your property, you have to remember that you’re not in the business of selling accommodations—instead, you’re selling experiences. When travelers land on your website, they expect to find helpful information about your rooms, specials, and amenities. But in order to make an informed and confident decision about where to travel to and where to stay, the average traveler will usually want to spend more time researching different aspects of their trip. Before booking a reservation at your property, your travelers want to know things like:
- How close is your property to popular restaurants, coffee shops, and bars in the surrounding area?
- What major roadways are close to your property, and where do they lead?
- What culture-based attractions (concerts, festivals, neighborhoods) can they easily see or experience if they stayed at your property?
- What shopping centers or small businesses are close by?
- Does your property offer quick access to parks, hiking trails, or other nature-based attractions that are popular in your area?
As a property manager, you can either choose to let your prospective guests leave your website to do this kind of research on their own, or you can keep them engaged by allowing them to find the information they’re looking for without ever having to leave your website.
TAKE ACTION: To build trust and boost reservations through your website, add helpful information for interested travelers about dining, local events and festivals, day trips, and other things to do, see, and experience while they’re staying at your property.
Another way you can boost reservations on your property website is by offering attractive specials and packages for interested travelers to take advantage of. To offer specials and packages that pique the interest of the people who land on your website, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who is my target customer?
- What do they care about?
- Why do our guests choose our property over others?
- What do our guests do while they are staying with us?
- How does our property cater to our target audience better than our competitors?
- What type of themed packages would interest our target guest most?
- Which specials have been most effective in the past?
- What kind of packages and specials can I afford to give to my prospective guests?
Use your answers to these questions to come up with enticing offers and packages that you know your target guest will get excited about.
For example, if newlyweds book a reservation at your property as part of their honeymoon, create a themed honeymoon package that offers a discount plus special amenities that other guests won’t have access to. If travelers book reservations with you because they love golf, create a VIP golf package that they won’t be able to resist.
TAKE ACTION: Come up with unique specials and themed packages (hiking, honeymoon, golfing, ladies weekend, senior special, etc.) that help convince people of the value of choosing your property over another in the area. Feature them prominently in a banner ad on your homepage, or within the main navigation menu.
3. Mobile Functionality
If your property website is not optimized to display on mobile, or not optimized to accept reservations from people using smartphones, you’re missing out on a big opportunity. According to research on mobile trends and the travel industry, more travelers are using their smartphones to research properties and book reservations than ever before. Hotel bookings from mobile devices grew by 67% in 2016, and in the past year, conversion rates have grown 88% on mobile travel sites.
In addition to impacting conversions, a website that doesn’t load on mobile can affect your reputation among travelers. Because most travelers don’t have the opportunity to come visit your property before deciding whether to book a reservation with you, they rely heavily on the internet to overcome any hesitations and objections the might have about your property. If your website doesn’t load correctly or quickly when opened on a mobile device, prospective guests may get the wrong impression about your property.
TAKE ACTION: To boost reservations, make sure your website and your online reservations system are both optimized for mobile. To find out if your site is optimized for mobile and to identify any hidden issues that may exist, use this tool from Google. It will analyze your website and make recommendations about how to improve user experience for anyone who attempts to access your site from their smartphones or tablets. Need help creating a mobile-friendly property website? We can help.
4. Live Chat
Another tactic that more property managers—and businesses across all industries—leveraged more in 2017 was including live chat on their websites as a way to connect with and engage with leads in real-time. Not fully convinced of the value? Consider these facts:
- A recently published Inc article reports that, “customers feel most satisfied during their buyer’s journey when using a live chat feature, compared to other options such as voice (88%), email (85%), and even social media messaging (Facebook 84%, Twitter 77%).”
- A recent survey from Kayako found that, “79% of businesses say offering live chat has had a positive effect on sales, revenue, and customer loyalty.”
- The same survey from Kayako states that, “38% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company if they offer live chat support.”
These days, online consumers are all about convenience—they don’t want to waste a lot of time searching for answers. They also don’t like waiting to communicate with businesses. As a resort manager, it’s your job to adopt and invest in tools that make it easier for interested travelers to perform research, get answers to their questions, and make decisions about whether or not to book a reservation.
TAKE ACTION: Implement a live chat tool on your resort website. Consider trying TRACK Chat—it empowers the communication experts in your company to engage, convert, and support website visitors. Click here to get a free demo and learn how it can help you boost sales this quarter.
5. Trust Indicators & Social Proof
If you’re seeing a good amount of traffic on your website and internal pages, but not a lot of online reservations being made, it could be an issue of trust. Despite the popularity of online shopping and online travel booking, consumers still remain somewhat wary and cautious of sharing their personal information with businesses online.
To help alleviate concerns and fears, you need to add trust indicators throughout your resort website that help remind visitors that the actions they’re considering taking aren’t risky. There are two ways to build trust with interested travelers who land on your website:
- Option 1: Add trust indicators. Trust indicators are visual badges, graphics, or statements that help remind visitors that they can trust you—that their identity and credit card information will be protected and secured if they decide to book a reservation online through your website. Here are some common examples that you’ll see on websites:
- Option 2: Add social proof content. Another way to build trust is by including social proof content on pages throughout your website. Examples of social proof include reviews, photos, stories, and other content from happy guests who enjoyed their stay with you. The goal with social proof is to eliminate fear and show prospective guests that other people happily took the action they are considering taking.
TAKE ACTION: Make an effort to add more trust indicators and social proof on your website. Feature your best guest reviews, highlight real photos from happy guests, and employ a designer to help you create the right trust-building graphics for various pages on your website.
6. Simplified Reservation Journey
Another way to boost reservations in 2018 through your website is to work to make your online reservation journey more clear and simple for visitors. Your website visitors shouldn’t have to spend very much time figuring out how to book a reservation on your website. Ideally, they should understand what action to take and where to go within a few seconds of landing on your property homepage for the first time.
Depending on how your online reservation system works, you may not have the ability to revise or alter the checkout experience guests have when scheduling and paying for a reservation, but you can help make it easier for them to get there from your internal pages.
For example, you could add a primary “Book Now” CTA button in your main navigation or within the footer of your website. Doing so can help ensure that interested visitors can find and engage with your reservation CTA buttons from any page on your website.
You can also help make the journey easier by including color-consistent CTA buttons in different sections of your website pages.
TAKE ACTION: Take the guessing game out of your reservation journey. Help website visitors understand what action to take by including consistent call-to-action buttons and copy throughout your website. Don’t try to be overly-creative or descriptive with your copy—make it easy for people to quickly scan text and find what they are looking for.
7. Contact Information
To boost online reservations, you should also make it easy for visitors to find your contact information. As mentioned earlier, online consumers don’t like wasting time trying to get answers to their questions. They also don’t like being forced into using communication channels that they aren’t comfortable with.
As a property manager, it’s up to you to ensure that your visitors understand all the ways they can communicate with you and your team if they have questions. That means prominently featuring the following on your website:
- A link to your contact form
- An email address that will connect them with a reservation agent
- A phone number they can call within your business hours
- Links to your social media profiles
- Live chat prompts
- A mailing address they can send a written or typed letter to
TAKE ACTION: If you load your website right now and it isn’t clear right away how interested travelers are supposed to reach out to you with questions, update it to better feature some or all of the options from the recommended list above.
8. Transparent Policies
A final way to boost online reservations this year is to be crystal clear and upfront about your reservation policies. Remember: many online consumers are still somewhat wary about buying products, paying for services, and booking reservations online. It’s your job to alleviate their fears. One way to do it is by simply being more transparent when it comes to sharing your guarantees, your cancellation policy, and any other policies that may affect them during their stay with you.
TAKE ACTION: don’t hide your policies from interested travelers. Make it easy for people to find and read through your policies on your property website. Include links to them in your footer, or incorporate them into a dropdown within your navigation menu.
Over to You
What website components are you planning on incorporating into your property website in 2018? Tell me in the comments below.