By Kevin Tjoe — 30 Sep 2021
What does the perfect online booking process look like for your customers? You could market your tourism business with great success and amazing reviews – but if your booking process isn’t simple and smooth then you could lose customers at this crucial point. Let’s consider what customers expect in an ideal travel booking procedure, as well as some implementation tips.
An online process enables your customers to book at 2am, 9pm or at the last minute if they choose, capturing their interest whenever it suits them. As such, live availability and booking is a must: whether customers are on your website, a review site such as TripAdvisor or online travel agencies such as Booking.com or Expedia. Whenever customers happen to click on that ‘Book Now’ button, you won’t want to miss that chance.
It’s crucial to step into your customers’ shoes and provide the answers they might be seeking as they work through the online booking process. Will their elderly parent or children be able to join them? What happens if the weather turns out to be terrible on the day? Answer these types of questions pre-emptively, and you’ll vastly improve your chance of a successful booking. For example, aim to include:
Convenient booking is the whole point of an online process. Nobody wants to spend half an hour completing their booking or filling in twenty form fields on one page only to be faced with multiple errors. Be sure to carefully consider which customer information you actually need, and choose an online booking system that will guide customers through the process step by step.
Once customers have committed to your tour or activity, they’ll want reassurance that their booking and payment have been successfully received. A branded, automated confirmation email can provide this reassurance and inform all of the guests in the booking group. You might also wish to send out an automated reminder a day or two before the experience; potentially with a liability waiver for guests to sign electronically at their convenience. Bookings and waivers can be easily connected when integrating services such as Rezdy’s online booking software and Wherewolf’s digital waivers.
The tourism and travel industries can have some of the highest abandonment rates around – even as high as 97% for cruise and ferry sites! Address the following key factors to keep your abandonment rates as low as possible:
If your goal is to increase tour bookings this year, you may want to start by evaluating your website. Each element of the website should be used to encourage travellers to book your products, and to book them now. The booking flow should be as seamless as possible so travellers can find the information they need and instantly book. Here’s how to create a friction-less online booking flow:
Your website may have multiple landing pages, all with additional information about your company and the products that you offer. These landing pages simply must have a booking button on them. You never know which tidbit of information or data will convince a traveller to book one of your tours. Your online booking solution should include a visible booking button that can be added easily to any website landing page that you create. With a ‘Book Now’ button on every page, you’ll be able to take advantage of the moment that the website visitor feels compelled to become a customer.
Adding the booking button to the page code is not enough. You’ll also need to be strategic about where you place the booking button on each landing page. It should be near the top of the page design so that it’s visible during those first few seconds that a website user is scrolling the page.
Include buttons in areas where it will feel natural to click — perhaps right under a brief tour description, or next to a high-resolution image of people enjoying your tours. The booking button should be easy to spot in a prominent location in order to be effective.
Your website shouldn’t be the only place where your prospective travellers can book your products. Many people are now using social media to book directly with companies; however, others may prefer to book directly from the search engine results page (SERP). Ensure that you implement an online booking solution that allows you to accept direct bookings through Facebook, Instagram and even with Google Things to do.
Travellers are becoming increasingly accustomed to the convenience of advanced technology. Many travellers now prefer to use their smartphone assistants and devices to book their tours and activities for them. Keep up with this demand by investing in a booking solution that works naturally with the latest technology and trends.
Your customers shouldn’t have to work to book your tours and activities. The online travel booking procedure should be made as simple as possible for them, so you won’t miss out on that pivotal moment when they want to finalise their reservation. With the right technology in place, you can simplify the booking process, boost your bookings and provide an amazing customer experience.
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