April 17, 2020
By Cvent Guest

The hospitality industry has a 2% average website conversion rate, meaning that for every 100 website visitors, only two of them take the next step. But here’s the good news: There are dozens of simple steps you can take to boost your hotel website conversions.  

First, you need to learn why and when you’re losing people, so you know where to focus your time and resources. Then set goals and explore our sure-fire ideas to increase conversions for group sales and individual bookings.

Discover common reasons hotel websites miss out on conversions, and how to improve results

To figure out how to increase hotel website conversions, first you must determine where and when in the funnel you commonly lose customers. Is it a bounce or an exit? Do they visit a single page and then leave or do they exit after viewing multiple pages? What does traffic flow look like? Is there a common page that results in many exits?  

Below are specific questions to determine common problem areas for booking group sales and direct bookings through your website, along with the fixes they should inspire. 

Group sales conversion hurdles and their solutions:

Problem: Did they exit before filling out an RFP? There may not be enough available information to satisfy the customer. They may expect additional details before making contact.

What to do: Review the website to ensure you provide sufficient, easy-to-find information that helps the planner take the next step with ease. Include prominent testimonials from corporate event coordinators, photos of successful conferences and events, 3D-rendered diagrams of the space, etc.

Problem: Did they start to fill out a form then abandon? If a form is too cumbersome, you may encounter page exits that leave forms half-filled.

What to do: 

  • Streamline the process with fewer questions to answer, or even pre-filled, event-specific forms. 
  • Offer an option beyond filling in event dates. A planner may be in the early stages of the process and not have hard dates to provide. Give them the option to start a conversation about your offerings. 
  • Make sure the RFP forms are mobile-friendly for the many planners working from their phones or tablets. 

Put these hotel website conversion tips to good use!

Problem: Have they submitted a form but not moved forward? Conversions take time, but a lag in your sales team’s response to planners can cost the lead.

What to do:

  • Set up automated eRFP responses through your hospitality software. Research shows planners want fast RFP responses.  
  • Give details in your RFP responses, and make sure they’re accurate. You build trust with busy planners when they know your information is reliable and thorough. 

Direct booking conversion hurdles and their solutions:

Problem: Are customers exiting during the research phase? This suggests missing or difficult-to-find information.

What to do: 

  • Add abundant photos and detailed descriptions of room features. 
  • Make prices readily available without requiring an account sign-up. People may hesitate to give information just for pricing and package offerings.

Problem: Are customers exiting during the check-out process? Abandoned carts may indicate an unwieldy check-out process.

What to do: 

  • Reduce the steps to check-out by minimizing the required information. 
  • Make sure every step of your check-out process is mobile friendly. 
  • Skip the CAPTCHA. 
  • Revisit your buttons, fields, and coinciding microcopy. Rework to improve simplicity, clarity of next steps, and navigation ease.

More tips to retain visitors to your booking page:

  • Limit exit-points and reduce distractions on mobile devices by excluding the main website navigation, social media logos, and links in the check-out process.
  • Include a progress bar so users can know it won’t take long. And, of course, keep the number of pages to a minimum.
  • Don’t add unexpected booking fees; make sure all extra costs, including tax and convenience fees, are listed upfront.
  • Reconsider when you upsell. If the add-on page results in drop-offs, offering upgrades in a confirmation email or booking post-screen may be a better option than within the booking engine itself.

Design content for the customer entry point and booking types

Have visitors to your website arrived through a paid ad on social media, a venue listing on the Cvent Supplier Network, a link on a travel review website, or organic, non-brand traffic from a search engine? Each of these visitors will have a different level of engagement and expectations — greet them with content that addresses their intent. 

Visitors rarely book on the first visit to a hotel website. Users in the research phase may land on a promotional page, but leave the site to find reviews, visitor photos, and city guides for travel details. What to do: 

  • Expect a bounce at this stage, so don’t push aggressively for a booking. Instead, encourage returns with a "Watch Rates" CTA.
  • Offer a discount code with a newsletter signup.   
  • Create helpful city guides and give them prominent play on your site.

When a user returns, ready to book, prioritize keeping them on-site to complete the process. What to do:

  • Provide easy-to-digest, compelling information about the property. 
  • Streamline and speed up the booking process. 
  • Clarify how to contact a live customer service representative, if needed.  

Visitors who arrive on-site from an influencer or social media campaign aren’t necessarily ready to book. What to do:

  • Rather than “Book Now!,” create a vibrant landing page with a CTA to sign up for your email newsletter or Instagram account.
  • Offer several travel guides for the area around the hotel, covering topics such as regional cuisine, shopping districts, and Instagram-worthy hotspots. 

Group business conversions happen at a different, slower pace — and the landing pages and information should support the process. What to do: 

  • Make sure offers, packages, and discounts target planners. This could be an offer of a discounted night for group guests who extend their stay beyond a company meeting, or a free coffee and pastry spread for one morning of a multi-day conference. 

Discover 12 ideas to boost hotel website conversions

1. Adjust your hotel lead generation strategy.

Identify and prioritize high-value markets to target qualified leads. Then, become a resource for your targeted customer profiles: Create content to aid in the research and decision-making phases — and build relationships.

Create a helpful, information-rich community with a Facebook or LinkedIn group: Establishing your hotel as a leader in group sales know-how increases trust, nurturing relationships that may turn into sales.

2. Use incentives and rewards programs to earn loyalty.

The promise of a reward can nudge a browser into booking territory. Encourage visitors to remain on your website and increase conversions by attaching a bonus to direct booking, which can also increase subsequent stays.

Treat new loyalty members to free room service for their first stay, or give first-time bookers double points toward future free upgrades.

3. Prioritize a clean, straightforward website design.

Don’t bury important information. Graphics, extraneous copy, too many buttons, and a jam-packed navigation menu can hinder information scent, the ability for users to find what they need without backtracking or leaving your website. Place key details above the fold and use accurate, helpful anchor text to let users know what they’ll get if they click.

Implement A/B or Split Testing to see what website features produce results. Test link order, calls-to-action, website copy, and color combinations to see which elements perform — and which to update.

4. Craft clear, effective CTAs.

The best calls-to-action are short, simple, and easy to find. Make yours stand out: Streamline clickable areas, make the buttons easy to use, and include urgency while keeping the text straightforward.

Instead of a vague “More,” tell the user exactly what to expect. Consider the action you want visitors to complete and design your CTAs accordingly. Including urgency or scarcity messages can produce hotel website conversions, but over-using the same messages can cause a decline in trust. If the “Only Three Rooms Left!” counter never ticks downward, it may leave users suspicious.

Encourage users to take the next step with phrases that express action. “Check Availability” issues a sense of urgency, while “Watch Rates” gives on-the-fence guests the option to act — in this case, sign up for email alerts so they can come back when there’s a discount.

5. Ensure honesty and accuracy in listings.

Prices, advertised amenities, high-quality photographs, and detailed room and venue descriptions build trust, which can increase conversions. Maintaining accurate listings on venue sourcing sites, such as the Cvent Supplier Network, also helps busy planners breath a sigh of relief — this key client group rewards properties that don’t make them hunt down information. With the information outlined clearly, they don’t have to look elsewhere and increases the likelihood that they’ll convert. Strategies to improve your listings include:

  • Crisp, professional, and beautiful photos.
  • Detailed event room layouts and 3D diagrams of common event types.
  • Honesty about your market.
  • Accurate pricing details. 
  • Best-rate guarantees to match or beat OTA prices.
  • Upfront cancellation policy. 

6. Implement quick, easy contact methods.

Be available when and where potential customers want to reach you. Track contact for proper attribution and follow-up to secure more group sales.

A hotel chatbot may provide automated answers to FAQs, but implement a solution for those times when the AI doesn’t meet their needs. Users may turn to email, live chat, and phone calls for answers. Send a post-contact voucher for free breakfast to move a customer from questions to action.

7. User-friendly booking engines simplify the process.

Booking should be easy, with few exit points, easy-to-navigate forms, and simple and secure payment options. Manage group hotel reservations with a dedicated booking engine purpose-built to save time and increase conversions.

Allow users to save their trip details or an agenda so they can come back later. It makes the return visit easier on the guest so checkout is faster. 

8. Keep users in the checkout funnel.

Minimize the steps required for booking and payment to retain website visitors to the end of the process. Room selection and upsells should be straightforward. Too many options or required actions can frustrate or overwhelm the website user.

Instead of requiring account setup before booking, allow users to check out as a guest, then invite them to connect their purchase to an account in the confirmation email.

Have a backup plan in case of limited availability. If the rooms or dates requested aren’t available, trigger an automatic offer for a discounted room upgrade.

9. Tell website visitors exactly what they get — and why they want it.

Website copy should be easy to understand, and key details should be provided upfront. Avoid confusing jargon and walls of text: Webpage browsing habits tend toward skimming over reading, so present information in lists and bullet points rather than paragraphs.

SEO-friendly copy should be written for the visitor first. It’s a perfect opportunity to show why your location is the best choice and how you differ from the competition. While copy is necessary, it’s not the only option.

Video is an engaging, popular option in travel and hospitality. Create an interactive video of your location that allows guests to explore available experiences, follow an influencer on their journey, or tour favorite stops within the city.

10. Implement a winning remarketing strategy to get on-the-fence visitors back.

Abandoned bookings happen — but remarketing can lure guests back. Abandonment strategies can include retargeted ads across the internet, which can increase conversions, but internet users are ad-savvy and may require a personalized approach. Follow-up emails with reminders to finish a reservation or special deals can bring visitors back after they’ve shopped around. 

An automated email that highlights travel details and reminds the user of the rooms they viewed can draw them back to their booking. Let them know you're holding the reservation for when they're ready, and include a link that goes directly to a retained cart. Increase value with an offer of a restaurant credit or a free bottle of champagne at check-in, or remind them of your best-price guarantee.

Dynamic website personalization allows return visits to trigger a custom welcome screen that’s pre-filled with travel details and room information, reducing the steps between visit and booking.

11. Promote to the right audience the first time.

Making useful content available, whether through email newsletters, downloadable vacation guides, or engaging videos, draws users who may not be ready to book, but are interested in what you have to say.

Create a "What is Your Dream Vacation" quiz to learn what makes each customer tick. You’ll get valuable data about what kind of traveler your visitors are — romantic couples, families, singles, adventurers, luxury travelers, wanderers, spa-dwellers — so you can target future promotional emails to the appropriate segmented list.

12. Let social proof and user-generated content do the talking.

Don’t be shy about showing off user-generated content, from reviews to social media tags. 

Set up hotel hotspots that trigger a quick "satisfaction rating" survey, and gather data throughout the guest's journey: when they finish checking in, leave the restaurant, exit the gym, use the business center, or check out. The aggregate rating can update in real-time on the hotel website so people looking to book can see an up-to-date rating that’s not influenced by review websites. As a bonus, this can highlight problem areas you can address quickly. 

Now you know some tips to increase your hotel website conversions!

Target specific goals and make UX improvements across your hotel website to meet those goals to increase conversions — whether you’re looking to build your email list, generate strong leads, or move customers along in the booking funnel. Our free Ultimate Guide to Digital Marketing includes additional tips, tricks, and best practices to increase hotel website conversions and group bookings.    

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