Fuel Hotel Marketing Podcast: Episode 177 – Secrets To Optimizing Your Hotel Website Conversion Rate

by Phil Foriska

During the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, competition is going to be tough. There will likely be less demand and you’ll have to work harder to get people to visit your site. One of the items that should be on everybody’s to-do list right now is to improve your website’s conversion rate. In this episode, we cover some simple things you can implement today to help catch more direct bookings and ensure that you don’t let people bounce away to the OTAs or to your competitors.

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How Do I Optimize My Conversion Rate?

  • Conversion Rate Optimization begins with understanding the funnel and page flow.
    • Understanding your site visitors and their needs throughout the funnel
      • Different pages have different goals. For instance, the goal of your homepage is to nudge the user further down the funnel to, let’s say, a rooms page.
        • The goal of the rooms page is to nudge the user further down the funnel to selecting an individual room.
        • The goal of the individual room page is to nudge the user into the booking en gine.
        • The goal of the booking engine is to get the user to purchase.
      •  When you look at pages of your site as different parts of the funnel you can begin to understand what a user wants during that particular part of their purchase cycle.
    • Getting Customers Into The Proper Part Of The Funnel
      • This is the art of matching searcher intent. If someone reaches your site through paid ads by searching for a particular keyword, the landing page experience needs to give them exactly what they were looking for.
      • Let’s say you’re running ads on “Two Bedroom Oceanfront Condos”. Your landing page for that ad needs to feature everything about your two-bedroom condo offerings. It needs to show off the room, the view, the amenities, and even the deals available for booking that room. If you’re sending someone searching for Two Bedroom Condos to your homepage, you’re probably sacrificing a lot of conversions.
      • Equally as important to matching the searcher intent is nudging that prospective guest to the next logical part of the funnel, which, in this case, would be the booking engine so they can book your two-bedroom oceanfront condo.

Okay, I Understand My Funnel. What’s Next?

  • Next, you must identify which pages on your website currently have the highest conversion rates and which pages to do not.
    • Your conversion rate of a page may not always be a purchase. It could mean increasing clicks from a page to another page or even increasing the number of phone calls.
    • Check out the blog post for detailed instructions on viewing page flow and conversion rates in Google Analytics.
  • Now that you know which pages are converting well and which ones are not, it’s time to understand why.
    • This is where we begin to use user testing and screen recording tools like Microsoft Clarity.
    • Observe how users are interacting with your top converting pages as well as the pages that cause the most exits from your site.
    • Make a list of differences. What is different about the imagery, the copy, CTA placement, CTA messaging, etc?
      • What facets of your top converting pages can you add to your worst converting pages?
      • Is there additional information you could add to poor converting pages that users may be seeking elsewhere?
      • Is there a clear next action for the user to take to lead them into the next logical step of the funnel?
      • Do you have pages that draw a lot of traffic but do not convert into a purchase? How can you turn those site visitors into purchasers?
        • Does it make sense to send them into the booking engine straight away or does it make more sense to push them to another piece of content or page that will help make them a purchaser?

I Think I Know What Could Improve Conversion Rate. What’s Next?

  • Testing – The Key To Conversion Rate Optimization
    • CRO is an iterative process and it requires goals.
      • The Tests
        • Ensure you are making one change at a time. If you’re testing a bunch of new items on a page you won’t know what caused the results you are seeing.
      • Goals
        • Annotate when a change is made, what the specific change was, and what you intend to accomplish with the change.
        • Provide an ample amount of time so you can generate enough data to make a statistically significant comparison from the day you made the change to a previous period and the previous year.
        • Your goal doesn’t always have to be directly related to a purchase. Your goal could be reducing the number of exits of a given page, increasing clicks from a page to another page or even increasing the number of phone calls.
      • Analysis
        • Did the change accomplish your goal? Were there other unintended consequences?
          • Did your change cause a significant change in rank, CTR, page load speed?

What Are Some Conversion Rate Optimization Tactics?

  • Page Experience Tactics

    • 1. Make your pages load faster!
      • Nothing kills conversion rates more than slow pages. Users are getting so accustomed to getting what they want instantaneously that if your site is loading slow they will leave and go to an OTA that isn’t slow.
    • 2. Making calls to action more obvious
      • All too often we find hoteliers that are so familiar with their site and they know exactly what to click to get to the next step. That’s not always the case with the prospective guest who is visiting the site for the first time. Watching Microsoft Clarity recordings can shine a light on how users are interacting with a page and if they are scrolling around and looking for a way to move to the next step. This can be as simple as using thumb-friendly buttons rather than text links.
    • 3. Reduce The Number Of Steps Required To Make a Purchase (Generally Speaking)
      • After you have made the path to conversion obvious for the user you should now be thinking of expediting the process by reducing the number of steps required to purchase. Things like auto-populating fields have proven to work well. Be sure you are not asking for more data than you need during the purchase process. Remember, you will have other opportunities to gather additional information after the guest has booked.
    • 4. Create open lines of communication
      • Whether this is a live chat option, or simply adding a clickable phone number strategically throughout the site, make it easy for guests to contact you.
      • A good example of this is including a clickable phone number to a group or wedding reservation specialist rather than requiring a user to fill out a long RFP. Keep in mind when you do this you will need to consider how you will keep track of those calls so you know if this test actually helped improve the conversion rate.
    • 5. Anticipate the contextual questions and answering them
      • The types of questions, doubts, and concerns that occur are mostly predictable throughout the conversion funnel. For example, when a guest is initially searching, they care about their prerequisite checklist such as free wifi, whether or not breakfast is available and if it’s included. As they get closer to pulling the trigger on a reservation, their questions may turn towards the risk factors, such as whether their credit card data will get stolen or what are the ramifications if the guest changes their mind.
  • Psychological tactics

    • 1. Create a sense of urgency
      • This is one of those proven tactics that not enough hotel websites utilize. There is a reason that every infomercial uses this tactic. It works. Making people feel like they would have to spend more if they don’t book now can have a major impact on your conversion rate. This tactic can be deployed throughout the journey from countdowns in your ad copy, to a matching countdown timer on the website, all the way through to the booking engine.
    • 2. Fear of Missing Out
      • Very similar to creating a sense of urgency, FOMO is a psychological tactic that can greatly improve conversion rates. Adding simple text to your booking engine such as “Only 2 rooms left” can nudge the user into booking now rather than putting it off for another day or two.
    • 3. Adding Reviews and Images as Social Proof
      • We talk about this tactic often and that’s because it can greatly improve conversion rates. When your site visitors see others enjoying time at your property they are more likely to book with you too. Tools like Flip.to allow you to embed positive social media posts from your guests right into your site for prospective guests to see.
      • You should also have reviews of your property on your site as well. We know how important reviews are to prospective guests and having them on your site reduces the chance that users will leave to read reviews elsewhere.
    • 4. Reinforce Value
      • Don’t lose potential guests by making them question their purchase decision. Your booking experience should include all of the perks & discounts they are getting by booking now.
    • 5. Acknowledge and address fears
      • Now, more than ever, people are afraid of many things. Be aware of what those are and don’t be afraid of talking about them in a proactive and reassuring way.


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