Hoteliers spend millions of dollars each year on digital marketing campaigns designed to drive more online bookings. But even with this investment, 81% of travel planners will leave a website before finalising their booking, according to recent research from behavioural marketing specialists SalesCycle.
That’s a whole lot of booking abandonment, and a huge amount of potential revenue missed.
For marketers, there are few things as frustrating. It means you’ve caught a guest’s attention in the search engine results pages, engaged them with your website content and gently pushed them through the booking funnel – only to fall at the last hurdle.
So what can be done about it? Assuming you’ve already optimised your booking pages to create a quick, smooth and convenient process for your guests, there are still a few other important steps to take to minimise booking abandonment. In today’s blog, we’ll take a look at some of the most common reasons guests abandon bookings, and what you can do to stop them doing so.
1. Reason for Abandonment: Just ‘Window Shopping’
Plenty of travellers planning their holidays online don’t have a rigid idea of where they want to stay in mind, even by the time they’ve reached your booking page. Sure, they may know they want a beach-based holiday on the Gold Coast, but they haven’t made up their mind which suburb, or whether they want a room just steps from the sand or in a less crowded spot a short drive back from the ocean.
They’re browsing, seeing what’s out there and waiting for the right location or irresistible deal to leap out at them. It’s this hunting around that causes the time from discovery to conversion in travel to be double that of traditional retail.
Although it may seem there’s not too much you can do in this situation, there are ways to persuade travel shoppers that their search should stop with you.
If a travel consumer has not firmly made up their mind about location, and your hotel has a great one, then it makes sense to use large, high definition photos to bring it to life on your homepage. Remember, what makes a ‘great’ location is subjective to the traveller. Bring in your knowledge of your guest personas and customise your visual content accordingly.
Tell Your Story
Using persuasive copywriting to complement your images, pull together information about local events and attractions to convince casual travel shoppers that the time to book is now. Instead of just describing the features of your property, the idea is to convey the value of travelling to your region or city above any other destination.
2. Reason for Abandonment: Perceived Value Too Low
Almost 40% of travel shoppers abandon room bookings because they perceive the price as too high. What this really means is, they feel the price doesn’t represent good value for money, that there are better deals out there waiting to be found. The only solution in this scenario is to lower your prices, right? Not necessarily.
Just as with any other kind of ecommerce, most people shopping for travel packages online consider special offers a pretty important factor in their purchase decision. So, if you’re not regularly creating attractive offers tailored to the needs of your guests, or you are making them, but not adequately promoting them, it’s time to change.
Make your special deals front and centre so they catch your guests’ eye as soon as they land on your website. If you want to get serious about promoting your offers, you could also consider adding a Special Offers menu tab so travellers know exactly where to head to access the best prices.
3. Reason for Abandonment: Asking For Too Much Information
According to SalesCycle, 26% of travel consumers will leave a booking when asked for personal information, and 21% will abandon when pushed for payment information. On top of this, 13% will abandon the booking process if it’s overly long-winded and complicated.
Keep it short. Yes, you need to ask for your guests’ basic contact info and payment details, but do you really need to know their gender and age at this stage? As useful as it is to gather demographic data on your guests, this is not the place to do it.
Remove all unnecessary fields and ensure the booking process can be completed with as few clicks and pages as possible. Booking a hotel room on Expedia takes 4 pages, but it can be stripped back to 3! Include compelling CTAs so guests know exactly where to click to complete the next step and remove any unnecessary distractions (social media buttons, or CTAs for newsletter subscriptions, for example) You can turn your attention to these things once you’ve secured the booking.
4. Reason for Abandonment: Slow Loading Times on Mobile Devices
More and more bookings are completed on mobile, and as result, slow loading times on small screens have become a significant factor in booking abandonment.
This one is easy to implement. Make sure your hotel’s website is optimised for mobile and delivers speedy loading times and a smooth, seamless experience across devices. You’ll reduce abandonment from guests booking on the go, and also win points with Google - thanks to the new algorithm change which favours mobile-friendly sites in the SERPs.
If your property’s website is visually engaging, rich with great deals and interesting content and mobile-friendly, you’ll see less and less booking abandonment.
Is your hotel doing everything you can to minimise booking abandonment? Let us know in the comments below!