For hotels and resorts, the competitive landscape has become increasingly ugly over the last 18 months. Organic traffic growth has significantly slowed (see Kim Palmer’s recent post on this subject for more). Competition in the PPC marketplace has cut purchase power. Increasingly aggressive OTAs spend millions convincing customers not to book direct. Even companies that have up until recently been considered partners are implementing programs that leech both traffic and dollars away from the hotel.
What’s an independent hotel to do?
In the face of these challenges, hoteliers are increasingly turning to optimization techniques to maximize their conversions on the traffic they already have, effectively doing more with less. The whole point of the optimization process is that there aren’t any easy answers – you’ll only discover what works best for your business by carefully studying analytics and methodically testing changes to visual hierarchy, messaging and design. BUT, if you don’t know where to start, here are four things to try that work more often than not for our hotel clients.
#1: Compress Images
#2: Add a Trust Icon
Sometimes just adding a simple “Best Rate Guarantee” icon to your booking widget or your home page can significantly increase conversions. Obviously this works best if you have a solid best rate policy in place, but you can try lots of other types of trust icons, too: awards for your hotel, rankings or security logos. Just put the trust icon near the conversion action such as the “Book Now” or “Check Availability” buttons.
#3: Work on Your Value Proposition
If I’m your customer, why would I choose your hotel over the hundreds of other options? That’s the question that you need to make sure you can answer and that you’re communicating effectively on your home page. Maybe you’re closest to the convention center, or maybe you’re the highest rated in your area. Whatever it is that makes your property unique and desirable, work on communicating that in just a few words and make sure it’s front and center.
#4: Utilize Triggered Welcome Messaging
You have a subscription form for email offers on your home page, right? And you have an automated “Welcome” message that goes out instantly to those subscribers, right? Well, those subscribers are the hottest leads you’re going to get. Instead of a generic “thanks for joining” message, send them an offer – and then follow it up with one or more additional emails after a few days. Encourage them to share with a friend, or sweeten the pot with additional amenities. The open rate on welcome messages is huge – sometimes 70% – so it pays to spend some time making sure you’re maximizing the opportunity.
While there are no “sure things” when it comes to conversion optimization, these are four quick changes you can make that are worth a shot when you’re getting started. If you’re ready to take the next step into A/B testing and full site optimization, we’d love to hear from you!