A hotel’s own website can (and should!) be one of the most impactful channels for selling your rooms. But if you don’t have much experience in digital marketing, diagnosing why a website is underperforming and taking action to improve it can feel daunting.
Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to understand what it is you want customers to do on your website, and to identify whether there are any barriers blocking the path to completing that action.
In this guide we’ll explain the steps that you can take to boost your website conversion rate using Triptease Convert tools. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Defining your conversion goal
- Reviewing your existing website with your conversion goal in mind
- The Golden Path - the ideal user journey on your website
- Using Targeted Message to improve your conversion rate (with examples)
Defining your conversion goal
For the purpose of this guide, we’re going to assume that the key action you’d like visitors on your website to take is to make a direct booking. So your conversion goal here is for them to book a room on your booking engine.
Depending on your type of hotel, you may also have a range of other conversion goals for your website - such as reserving a table in your restaurant, paying for spa treatments or requesting a wedding brochure. What’s important is that you isolate just one conversion goal at a time to understand whether customers are successfully achieving that one action, and what you can do to help more website visitors convert quickly and seamlessly.
That means you may find you want to run this exercise several times to review and improve the conversion rate of multiple goals. For now, let’s keep the focus on room bookings.
Reviewing your existing website with your conversion goal in mind
There are multiple lenses through which you can review a website: How strongly it reflects your hotel’s brand or how well it ranks in SEO, for example. These are all useful to undertake when you have time, but the most important website audit you can do is to review the journeys that users are taking on your website.
You can learn a lot from tools like Google Analytics in terms of understanding where users are entering and exiting your website. This can point you towards particular pages that may not be providing exactly what your audience was looking for. However, one of the simplest and most impactful ways to review the reality of what users on your website are actually thinking and doing is to perform some user testing.
This doesn’t have to be long and complicated to organize. Go to a local cafe and offer to buy a coffee for anyone who has five minutes to help you out with some website testing.
Here’s how it works:
- Sit your ‘user’ down in front of a laptop (or ask them to do this on their smartphone if you’re keen to review your mobile experience) and explain that you would like them to try to book a room on your website.
- It can be helpful to provide you user with a specific task to perform. For example, “I would like you to book a twin room for you and a friend who are taking a weekend break from February 5th - 7th 2021.” Of course they do not need to actually book and pay for the room, but ask them to go all the way through the process and stop just before confirming their payment.
- Explain to them that you’d like them to talk you through everything they are thinking, feeling and doing as they move through the process. This might feel strange to them at first, but reassure them that there is no ‘wrong’ answer and you simply want to understand how using the website is making them feel, and what is causing them to make certain decisions about what to do next.
- Note down anything important they tell you. You may hear things like “I’m looking for the button to book a room”, “I want to see more pictures of the hotel.” or “There’s a lot of different prices here.” You may also find that you can learn a lot from your user even if they’re not speaking - are they going back to the same page over and over again? Do they seem frustrated? Are they rage clicking?
- Remember that you cannot help your user to complete the task. Don’t tell them where they can find more photos of the rooms or which rate makes the most sense for their trip - you are simply observing their behaviour. What you can do is ask them questions to uncover more about the experience they are having. If they seem to be struggling, ask them to explain why. If they navigate to an unexpected page, get them to tell you what caused them to do that.
- By the end of this quick exercise you should be left with lots of notes on what a true booking journey through your website actually looks like. Repeat this a few times with different people and then look for common themes in your notes. Did everybody struggle to select a room and rate because there were too many options to choose from? Were people struggling to even find their way to your booking engine in the first place? Did anyone leave to compare prices elsewhere?
Once you’ve identified the key problem areas in your existing booking journey, you can then begin to take steps to fix them.
The Golden Path - the ideal user journey on your website
Something that your user testing will have helped you uncover is what your ‘ideal user journey’ should look like. This ideal user journey is sometimes known as the Golden Path, and it is the best (and often most likely) way that visitors perform the task you want them to complete on your website.
Ideally, the ideal user journey should be as straightforward as possible - but unfortunately many websites are overburdened with unnecessary content and overly complex page structures that do not have the Golden Path in mind.
Anything on your website that gets in the way of the ideal user journey should be stripped away or refined so that it no longer creates confusion or distraction for the user on their path to booking. You are trying to clear the path to your conversion goal to make it as easy as possible for your customers to reach it.
Using Targeted Messages to improve your conversion rate
After completing your user testing and spending time refining your ideal user journey, you should hopefully begin to see some increase in conversions as customers find their way through to booking much more easily.
But while simplification of that ‘Golden Path’ to booking is vital, so is ensuring that each and every guest still sees relevant, timely content that makes the value of booking direct on your website really clear.
That’s where Triptease Targeted Messages can help. Targeted Messages allow you to keep your fundamental Golden Path clear and seamless with no unnecessary information but still show personalized content to potential customers based on who they are, where they are and how likely they are to book.
The final step you’ll need to complete before using Targeted Messages to increase conversions on your website is to understand which audiences you should be targeting. Using data from the Triptease Insights Dashboard, or from your other reporting and data analysis tools, you’ll be able to build a picture of which types of customers are already visiting and booking on your website - are they domestic or from particular countries? Are they solo travellers or families? Do you get a lot of last minute or seasonal bookings?
Once you know who to target you can build offers and content to be delivered via Targeted Messages to increase bookings from those specific audiences.
The key audience to target:
The Triptease Insights Dashboard has highlighted that the United States is this hotel’s fourth highest source of website visitors, but that none of those visitors is booking direct or even running a search. This suggests there’s huge potential to increase conversion rates on the website by providing some targeted content to these users during their time on the website.
Again - a bit of time spent on research will be helpful here. Use Google Analytics or a similar tool to track where these customers are coming from and at what point they’re leaving your website. This may provide further refinements you should make to your ideal user journey.
You should also see what you can learn from any past guests from the United States - what kind of trips were they on? What kinds of rooms were they booking? What made them choose your hotel? Once you have an idea of what this audience is typically looking for when they book your hotel, it’s time to set up some Targeted Messages to help them convert.
Main learnings about that audience:
Let's say that your research uncovers the following facts about your target audience from the United States
- They have a long lead time, booking over 60 days in advance of their check-in date
- The majority of guests from the United States are couples aged over 45, travelling for leisure
- They book longer stays, and tend to spend more on upsells and F&B on-property - so they are high value!
Suggested messages to increase website conversions for this audience
Message one: An ‘Early Bird’ discount Nudge Message
When customers from the United States arrive on the website you need to encourage them to run a search. Experiment with discounts and special offers to move them a little further into the booking process.
- Displays three seconds after the guest arrives on the page
- Displays on all pages of the website, expect the booking engine
- Button links user straight through to the booking engine
- Location is United States
Message two: An email capture message
This audience typically books high value trips, so it’s understandable that they may not be ready to book immediately. You can use this opportunity to add them to your mailing list and keep your brand front of mind. Use message imagery that would appeal to a couple on a leisure trip rather than to a business traveller or family.
- Displays ten seconds after the guest arrives on the page
- Displays only on the booking engine
- Location is United States
- Party size is ‘Couple’ (Two adults)
The key audience to target:
The Triptease Insights Dashboard has highlighted that this hotel has a high volume of visitors searching for a stay with a lead time of seven days or less, but that those visitors don’t have the best conversion rate.
This could potentially be an easy win to increase conversion on the website. These last minute bookers are interested enough to run a search but then they’re leaving and potentially booking elsewhere.
Suggested message to increase website conversions for this audience
A ‘Last Minute’ booking incentive Exit Message
When a customer has run a search with a lead time of seven days or less and then shown signs that they are about to leave the website, a Full Screen on Exit Message can display to keep them on the direct website and convince them to book.
- All pages of the website
- Lead time is seven days or less
One final point to remember
While audience targeting allows you to provide totally unique content for every guest on a newly simplified user journey towards your booking engine, it’s important to remember that the more targeting you add to a message, the less people will see it.
It’s good to have a mix of Targeted Messages that promote big marketing promotions that you want all website visitors to see along with super targeted content that you know will work for very unique or particularly high value segments of guests. But each targeting condition you add to a message will reduce the number of customers who will trigger that message when they arrive on your website - just something to keep in mind as you begin to build your targeted content.
Finally, if you’re feeling inspired by the examples above and would like some help identifying the right audiences to target or creating messages to help them convert get in touch with the Triptease team at firstname.lastname@example.org