How to increase online bookings and promote your travel website – Ian Jones, MD

Managing Director of Billian IT Solutions, Ian Jones, has over 22 years’ experience of developing technology for the travel industry and has picked up some valuable tips over the years.

As digital media continues to impact the travel industry, Ian offers his advice on how to increase online bookings …

 

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So you’ve found the online travel booking engine that suits your business, it has all the right features and is incredibly user-friendly – but you’re still not getting any bookings?

Before worrying that there is a fault, consider some ways you could promote the tool first, as it may be less of a technical issue and more of a marketing one.

It could be the most innovative piece of technology in the travel industry, but if your audience does not know it is there or is turned off by the journey of getting to it then it is useless.

Here are some tips for increasing bookings made via your website …

Know your audience

This may seem like an obvious one, and chances are that you spent some time re-examining your target audience when selecting or building your technology for travel solutions, but it is key nonetheless.

A detailed understanding of your audience will give you a better idea of where to find them and will help you to develop a much more targeted marketing strategy.

Digital media is possibly the most valuable resource modern marketers have in targeting specific customers, and this is especially true for the travel industry.

For a bit more detail and tips on putting this knowledge into practice, check out this report from Deloitte, which seeks to outline how travel consumers interact with digital media, which leads on to …

Be social

Many companies treat social media as an afterthought and end up neglecting the newsfeeds, but it can actually be a very lucrative sales channel if used effectively.

The main rule to remember is to avoid the “sell, sell, sell” strategy. Not every post needs to be about your company’s services or special offers – this will only draw the attention of the customer who has already made the decision to buy.

Inspire your followers by sharing relevant content and beautiful photographs that will whet their appetite. If you specialise in trips to the Caribbean, post photos and interesting facts about the islands to make an impression, those already tempted may just need that extra push – so include a link to your booking engine!

Furthermore, once someone has booked give them the option to share it on social media – this is as simple as adding a “Share now” button to the booking confirmation page.

Many holidaymakers will excitedly announce their trip plans on their social profiles anyway and this will help to ensure that you get a mention too!

Good website design

Unfortunately, the battle is not won by simply getting users on to your page …

It could be that there is already a good amount of traffic being driven to your homepage, but nobody seems to stick around long enough to make a booking, in which case perhaps a rethink of your website’s design could help.

There are a variety of reasons why users may be turned off by your site; perhaps the layout is confusing and difficult to navigate, it may be cluttered with too much information for the user to quickly comprehend, or it may just look dated or unattractive to your target audience.

Similarly to sharing images on social media, current web design trends dictate that your homepage should be a visual experience, with only limited quality text, and you will likely see an improvement in bookings.

Beautiful images will grab the audience’s attention and they are likely to stick around to see more.

For example, The DoubleTree Hotel tripled the amount of clicks to their online booking engine after upgrading their website to a simpler layout that focuses more on images.

And it stands to reason; travel consumers want to visualise themselves at the destination, and a photograph will be much more effective than words in doing this.

Is it responsive?

It is fair to say that consumers were once apprehensive of booking travel via their smartphone, but as mobile travel technologies continue to improve it is fast becoming the norm.

The proliferation of WiFi hotspots and the introduction of 4G have made connections more reliable and lessened the fear of bookings being lost by a lack of signal, and of course the increase in capabilities of mobile devices makes the process much more streamlined.

The modern traveller looks for convenience and will likely do a lot of their planning on their phone or tablet – if they have to fire up the desktop to continue through the booking process, it’s highly possible that they will move on to another site with a responsive booking system.

Include reviews

Invite those who do book to write a review of their experience and include a small selection on your homepage. Of course, you must be sure that your booking engine is up to date and user friendly to get the most from this tactic.

The great thing is that if there is an issue you have overlooked, you’ll no doubt hear about it when the reviews start coming in!

Online research is a major part of the travel booking process and reviews from impartial sources are extremely important to the consumer, as a recent report from TripAdvisor suggests.

It is also beneficial to share some of the better ones on your social media accounts.

In conclusion, there have been vast technological developments in travel and tourism as the digital landscape has expanded and it has become commonplace for travellers to utilise multiple channels.

This is very exciting and provides a lot of promotional opportunities for the online travel industry, but it is also means that your travel technology and digital output must evolve too.

Ian Jones
Managing Director, Billian IT Solutions

For information on updating your booking engine or to discuss a bespoke project, contact us today on + 44 (0)1254 699065 or email sales@billian.co.uk

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Ian Jones
Managing Director
Ian formed Billian in 1995, after many years working within the travel technology sector as a Senior Developer and Development Manager for one of the most well known suppliers in the UK. Ian, as Managing Director, oversees all processes within the business and assists with making Billian the travel technology provider of choice. Over the years he has built a reputation for producing solutions that are user-friendly and meet client specifications, but are also technically comprehensive and stable.