How To Enhance Your Online Travel Bookings
May 12, 2021
Are you struggling to turn website visitors into paying customers? Or is your travel business already successful, and you want to enhance your online bookings? The online travel industry is one of the hardest areas to convert. As people are parting with so much cash, they have much longer journeys until they reach checkout.
We’ll give our top 8 tips to enhance your online travel bookings and explain how an online booking system can help you along the way.
- Have a user-friendly website
- Enhance your booking system
- Offer deals and packages
- Gather and share reviews
- Use online check-in
- Engage in email marketing
- Connect on social media
- Maintain customer relationships
1. Have a user-friendly website
If your business struggles to grow its bookings and sales, it may be because users aren’t making it past the homepage. If a website is cluttered, difficult to navigate, and its purpose is not clear from the outset people will leave.
In the case of travel websites, the function is to browse and find a holiday and then book it with ease. Therefore, your homepage should have a prominent search bar with enhanced filters by location, the number of guests, all-inclusive vs self-catered, special requirements etc.
Answer common questions
Your website should go into as much detail as possible about your products or services. The more informed your customers are, the more confident they will be in their purchase.
Put yourself in the shoes of your customers and answer frequently asked questions. For example, if the holiday package includes flights, talk about the price, airports they can fly from, baggage limits, the time and length of the flights, the check-in process, airline policy, cancellation policy, and the options to upgrade. The more information you include on your website, the fewer phone enquiries you will receive, as customers already have the answer!
Answering these common questions will mean your staff are less disrupted by phone calls and email enquiries, meaning they can focus on other tasks. With an online booking system, they can also cut out a lot of their admin.
Include clear calls to action
Is your website optimised for conversions? One of the main things you should include is clear calls to action (CTA) in relevant areas of the site. For an online travel business looking to increase bookings, your CTA may be something like ‘Book now’, ‘Check availability’, ‘Visit this location’, ‘Don’t miss out’. Words like ‘now’, ‘today’ or an end date express urgency which could encourage users to book during that first visit to the site.
As well as creating a sense of urgency, you could use the scarcity technique – opportunities seem more valuable when their availability is limited. Next to your CTA button, include short statements such as ‘Only 3 slots remaining’, ‘We’ll likely be sold out in the next 5 hours’. You could even include a countdown timer that shows how long the current deal is available.
The booking widget should be bold, bright and in a contrasting colour to the rest of the website design. Although you want the CTA to stand out, make sure it doesn’t clash or look too harsh on the eye as it can become distracting.
Adopt an online booking system
To make it easy for customers to book, you should adopt an online booking system. This allows you to embed a ‘Book now’ widget on your website and booking can be completed in 5 simple steps. Customers can browse your packages, check availability, choose their booking slot, add any optional extras, book and pay. They will then receive an automated email confirmation and reminders about their stay.
The purpose of an online booking system is to reduce employee workload, keep you organised, prevent cancellations, provide an excellent customer experience and so much more. Getting an online booking system is the first step to enhancing your online travel bookings, next you need to personalise it.
2. Enhance your booking system
BookingLive has many integrations (over 3,000 in fact!), so you can customise your booking system to your needs. Ensure that all of your customer’s questions are answered via your website to save staff time answering queries on the phone. Some of the top add-ons that will enhance your online travel bookings are:
With the Skyscanner integration, your customers can quickly and easily compare cheap flights, car hire and more. This helps to simplify their online travel booking journey, increasing the chances of repeat bookings.
The ever-popular Google Maps feature can be added to your online booking system so your customers can find personalised directions to your venue. Not only does this save your customers time, but it also prevents staff members from having to respond to multiple direction queries.
Allies Computing’s clever software saves your customers time and provides an impressive booking journey. Customers simply enter their postcode and click to look up their address, rather than having to enter it all manually.
3. Offer deals and packages
One of the reasons people prefer to book their holiday online is that they get a better deal. Who doesn’t love a good deal? Google’s research found that 7% of people surveyed booked a trip because they saw a special offer or discounted price for travel to a destination.
If your business offers packages with everything included, from flights to rooms to planned activities, it will be easier to increase your bookings. People love the convenience of a custom package as they can relax on their holiday rather than spend time planning out what they want to do next.
Create seasonal deals or packages suited to your customer’s preferences. For example, if they have booked before, you can use this data to offer activities that you know they’ll love; have they booked a jet ski experience before? Perhaps they’ll enjoy an assault course on the sea this trip.
This is also a great time to optimise the online upsell with your booking system. Recommend added extras that will work well with your customer’s booking. If they’re having a hotel stay, mention the option of robes and slippers. Scheduling a surfing lesson? Include wetsuit and board hire at the checkout. With these prompts, you can increase revenue whilst customers feel that you’ve enhanced their booking experience, rather than feeling like you’ve led them into a sales pitch.
4. Gather and share reviews
93% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase and 15% of users don’t trust businesses without reviews. So, a simple way to enhance your online travel bookings is to showcase reviews.
As well as encouraging bookings, gathering reviews can help you grow and improve your business. And you’re getting these insights for free! Take feedback seriously, both good and bad. You can understand which services are a hit and which areas aren’t living up to expectations.
Make sure you’re transparent with the reviews you share on your website; no matter how great your travel business is, it’s inevitable that you’ll receive reviews that aren’t quite 5 stars. If you respond well to these reviews by showing understanding and offering solutions for the customers, this will look great on your business. Proving that you offer an excellent support service will reassure potential customers and encourage them to book with you.
5. Use online check-in
As we have already discussed, improving the customer booking journey largely relates to increasing convenience. When customers book a holiday, they will want a convenient, efficient check-in process. The less admin the better, as people want to arrive at their destination and begin exploring rather than getting bogged down in forms.
Increase your online travel bookings by making the check-in process clear, and have an organised pre-arrival check-in. Using an online booking system will help you achieve this.
Collect information upfront
Of course, you will collect basic information about your guests such as their address, contact number and payment details as standard. But some specifics may not cross your mind until the situation arises.
You can automate your booking system to collect details individual to that customer’s booking. For example, if their package includes access to your restaurant, ask about any dietary requirements. If they need to rent out a wetsuit, ask for their size. If they’ve booked a deluxe room with a view, include a section for guests to add comments about special preferences or occasions they’ll be celebrating during their stay.
Collecting information like this allows you to add a personal touch and put your business in a different league from the competition. If guests mention that their trip is to celebrate a wedding anniversary, you could include a complimentary bottle of bubbly in their room.
Ask guests to sign digital waivers
Another time saver is to get guests to sign digital waivers before they arrive, so they don’t have to read through terms and conditions whilst they’re meant to be in the holiday mood. BookingLive integrates with Docusign, a software used to take e-signatures.
You can automatically send the waiver with their booking confirmation email and send automated reminders if they don’t sign it within a set amount of time.
6. Engage in email marketing
One of the channels you may use to gain travel bookings is email. You can automatically subscribe customers when they book with you or they may sign up for your newsletters on their own. With BookingLive’s Mailchimp integration, you can automate targeted emails and track email performance. This helps you to send customers the content they’ll like based on the data collected, and then you can analyse engagement levels.
For example, you could send them a blog article your business has written about the top things to do in Berlin if they have recently booked a weekend break there. If open rates are high, you could send a follow-up message upselling activity packages that you offer in that destination.
If you find that many of your bookings are abandoned, email remarketing can bring back the spark and get prospects excited about their holiday. Send promotional videos of the destination accompanied by reviews to boost social proof. For a final push to close the deal, you may want to offer discount codes or exclusive deals.
7. Connect on social media
As well as enhancing your website for online travel bookings, you should also be present on social media. This helps you to strengthen your brand and connect with your audience. By collaborating with influencers to showcase resorts, you will increase awareness of your business. Over time, you can become the go-to name for travel bookings.
Alongside posting, you should answer comments, like, and share your followers’ posts about their holidays and experiences to build a community. Use Instagram stories to create polls and stream live Q & As. As you gain more followers and engagement on social media, your website traffic and conversions should increase.
With BookingLive, you can include a link to your booking portal in your social media profile and posts. Signposting how users can book with you improves their experience and enhances your online travel bookings.
8. Maintain customer relationships
The 20/80 Pareto Principle is essential to keep in mind when retaining customers. Customer statistics show that 80% of revenue comes from 20% of repeat customers, while 80% of one-time customers deliver only 20% of the revenue.
If you’ve been successful in selling a travel experience, make sure you maintain a strong relationship with your customers to keep them coming back. Send them a follow-up email thanking them for booking with you and ask them for feedback after their stay.
With your email marketing strategy in mind, send them a discount code for their next booking to show that you value their loyalty. These gestures are worth it, even if the customer doesn’t return. Maintaining the relationship presents a positive brand image and they may still recommend you to their friends and family and leave you a shining review – leading to more bookings and revenue!
Don’t forget that your online booking system can automate all of these actions, freeing up your staff to focus on other duties.
Enhance your online travel bookings with BookingLive
BookingLive is ideal for travel businesses looking to grow and improve their operations.
Our Enterprise system has many features and can be customised to suit your needs. You will have a dedicated account manager who can support you with your booking system during every phase.
Our system for small businesses works on a tiered pricing model. If you take 25 bookings or less per month, it’s free! As your travel business grows and you sell more package holidays, move up the levels. Our most popular Grow package provides you with 100 bookings per month for just £9.99.