Getting the online booking process right is key for travel companies looking to secure more bookings through their site. Third-party travel vendors and comparison sites might be great for exposure, but placements and referrals come at a premium for travel companies who need to stand out in such a competitive marketplace.
Travel suffers from some of the highest basket abandonment rates of any industry thanks to a growing culture of “browse now, buy later”; but with 90% of travellers choosing to book online, how can you ensure your booking process is doing everything it can to persuade travellers to book directly with your business?
1. Make it clear that you offer online bookings from the off
58% of visitors to your site come to check prices and availability with the intention of booking – so you need to make the process as clear and easy as possible if you want to seal the deal before they look elsewhere.
Make your “Book Now” call-to-action a prominent part of your homepage so visitors are in no doubt that you offer an online booking service. Live availability tracking, an easy to navigate search function, and clearly presented search results all contribute towards a seamless booking experience that makes it easy for visitors to find the information they need to secure their booking with minimum fuss.
2. Optimise the booking process for mobile
In 2018, 67% of holiday bookings in the UK were made using a mobile device. This number is only likely to increase as more online shoppers move away from their desktops, so make sure your booking process works seamlessly across both mobiles and tablets to engage with as many people as possible. Simply optimising your site might not be enough. The way people interact with your business on mobile differs massively from a PC, so pay careful attention to every aspect of your booking process to make sure the mobile version is up to scratch.
3. Reward people for booking online
By booking online, travellers are saving your business precious time and money, so why not give something back? Offering exclusive discounts for making their purchase online gives travellers more reason to book directly through your website and helps increase online sales. Take the opportunity at different customer-contact points to encourage people towards online booking, whether that’s in your brochure, email footer or even your reception’s answer phone message. Offering different discount codes for each contact point lets you track which channels are most effective for pushing people towards booking online.
4. Collect and show customer reviews
Reading travel reviews is now a staple part of the decision-making process for people looking to book their trip. 94% of consumers check feedback to help them choose which hotel, car rental company or airline to go with. Showcasing customer reviews during the booking process is an incredibly powerful way of building trust in your business and reducing basket abandonment from indecisive shoppers; especially if you’re collecting your feedback using an independent and reliable source.
For the biggest impact, incorporate your reviews into every stage of your online booking process, from the moment visitors land on your homepage, right the way through to the checkout. There are even plug-ins, such as our very own Feefo Smart Themes, that make it easy for travellers to find the reviews that matter most to them. By letting them filter feedback by topics such as location or WiFi quality, they can start making decisions with confidence based on the stuff most relevant to them.
5. Add images and videos
An online booking process that shows, as well as tells, users what they’re getting creates a more compelling shopping experience for travellers looking for that picture perfect destination. Better yet, encourage previous customers to share their holiday snaps with you. Using authentic and unique user-generated content to showcase your holidays is far more convincing than yet another boring slideshow of perfectly framed stock photos.
6. Use AI to offer real-time support during the booking process
Even if you’ve created a simple, user-friendly booking process, we can all use a helping hand from time to time. Prominently displaying contact details throughout your site is an easy way to show that you have a helpful customer support team just a phone call away; but even that is one step too many for a generation of internet users who have come to expect immediate answers, and will quickly go elsewhere if they can’t get the help they need quickly.
AI chatbots aren’t the revolutionary piece of tech that they were several years ago, but they’re becoming more sophisticated every year. They offer the ideal cost-effective solution for travel companies looking to give real-time support to customers during the booking process, without sacrificing the time and manpower that traditionally comes with offering 24/7 customer support.
7. Keep the conversation going
Just because a customer has confirmed their booking, it doesn’t mean the booking experience is over. Make sure you keep the conversation going right up until they’ve touched back down after their holiday. Follow-up the booking with an automated email confirmation that includes all of their booking details, and amke sure to personalise the email journey by giving them some handy content tailored to their trip, such as a helpful city guide or travel advice.
Also, why not ask them for a review of your current booking process? You can learn from their feedback to improve the process for future customers and create an even better customer experience for them the next time they come to book with you.
Reviews are the ideal way to enhance your online booking process and start securing more reservations than ever before. If you want to find out more about how Feefo can help you use the voice of your customers to improve your booking process, get in touch with our team today.