There’s one bloodcurdling phrase that is sure to send a shiver down the spine of any OTA that dares to question why a consumer did not complete a booking; they were “just looking!”
The online travel consumer allegedly takes up to 45 days to make a decision to buy, visiting as many as 38 different travel websites along the way. With this in mind it’s really no wonder that the bounce rate for travel booking websites is so high.
Even when you do manage to capture the attention of the ready-to-buy customer, from the moment you lure them to your digital lair they will be on guard for warning signs. Booking travel is a big purchase for many consumers, which makes them extra-tense when it comes to making an actual transaction.
There are a lot of considerations you need to be aware of to stop them from running away screaming, never to return to complete their abandoned booking.
So let’s take a look at the grave mistakes travel booking websites are often guilty of, and how you can avoid them …
5. Inspiring online horror stories …
It’s true that you can’t believe everything that you read on the internet, but the experiences of your brand that the consumer hears around the virtual campfires of review sites and social media are likely to affect their decision to book with you.
Bad reviews can stop the booking process dead in its tracks or frighten customers away before they even make it to your site. It is therefore important that you strive to be the hero and not a villain to all of your customers, online and offline.
The online booking journey that you take the consumer on should be smooth with as few obstacles as possible. Test your services and consider all the outcomes that could lead to a negative experience, and then take the necessary steps to avoid them.
Bad reviews are a disease to a company and prevention is a heck of a lot easier than a cure.
4. Sending the consumer into the unknown …
It is an undisputed truth that we fear that which we do not yet understand, pair this with the cut-throat attention span of the millennial consumer and you’re in trouble if you overcomplicate your site’s layout and navigation.
The user interface should be intuitive. Make buttons for significant actions (i.e. Search, Confirm, Enquire) eye-catching and consistent with each other, the user will recognise the visual cues and understand that clicking will take them a step forward. Avoid lengthy or overly formal language; “Click here to find out more about this offer” is just as effective when shortened to “Tell me more”, and a lot more human.
Key features such as your booking engine or sales hotline should be instantly available. Remember, when we get to the bare-bones of it your website is a sales channel, and if the consumer cannot find what they came for within a few clicks and scrolls they are sure to make an escape.
Don’t send users into a labyrinth, keep subpages to a minimum and use visual elements to direct them.
3. Leaving the customer alone in the dark …
Too often we assume that automated software and booking engines take away the need for any real human interaction, but it’s important you still give the consumer the option of speaking with an advisor.
If you don’t make support easily available and things go awry, they are likely to choose flight over fighting to complete their booking, they may even take off running before they even start the process if they are the jittery type!
Let them know that you’ve got their back by providing a phone number or a live-chat function that is visible throughout. Sometimes bad things happen to good customers, make sure you’re prepared to come to the rescue.
2. Nightmarishly slow-loading pages …
Arguably the biggest threat to your online booking count, a slow loading page is enough to drive the most patient of us to insanity. In the age of 4G and “free-wifi” in public spaces, we expect everything instantly and we’re not shy of severing our connection with a sluggish site.
Ensure image file sizes and resolutions are not unnecessarily large and that media is optimised, this is where hiring a good web developer pays off in the long term. Sometimes it’s difficult and elements of a page will take longer than others; where possible consider adding an animated loading GIF that displays while they wait, this is a sleek and easy way of reassuring the despairing user.
Give your site regular health check-ups and calculate the amount of time it takes between arriving on your landing page and checking out after making a booking, don’t wait for someone to ring up and complain – they won’t always bother to!
1. A homepage that’s dead behind the eyes …
Emotion often wins over rationality when it comes to the consumer’s decision to purchase, just like the horror movie heroine that goes back into the haunted house to save her friends.
Show them what they are longing for with beautiful images and get them excited with well-written copy. A website with a stuffy design and no personality is like a zombie; it looks alive and sure enough it gets up and walks, but you don’t particularly want to stick around and get to know it. Not to mention it will EAT YOUR BRAINS! (Okay, maybe not but you get the idea)
You may not win over the window-shoppers, but make the right impression and they may just hunt you down again when they are ready to buy!
We hope you’ve enjoyed our creepy countdown, if you think you might be making these monstrous mistakes get in touch now, or visit our products page to find out how we can help you survive in the digital landscape.
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