If you want your website to appeal to the maximum number of travellers, you need to step into their shoes – and really consider their thought processes. We suggest how you can appeal to potential guests throughout the customer's journey: from dreaming and planning, to booking their stay and sharing their experiences.
Your website is your way of telling the world what your property’s all about. But how can you make sure it appeals to all possible travellers?
According to a Google study, there are five distinct phases or ‘micro-moments’ in a typical travel customer’s journey. We’ve compiled insights on each stage, plus practical tips on how to tweak your website to address travellers’ thinking, secure their bookings and benefit from their social-media backing.
1. Dreaming (travellers want inspiration)
During the dreaming phase, 78% of leisure travellers still haven’t decided what airline they’ll travel with. What’s more, 82% haven’t even chosen which accommodation provider they’ll book through.
This is your chance to capture a traveller’s imagination and appeal to their sense of wanderlust. How? With relevant, inspiring destination content that describes your property in relation to its surroundings. Ask yourself the following questions:
What are your destination’s best selling points? How can you describe your location in an attractive and enticing way? What would make someone want to visit your area as opposed to somewhere else?
Optimise your website for dreamers
- Blogging is an easy way of sharing unique content about your property and destination. Write about different aspects of life in your region, interesting local personalities and must-see events or landmarks.
- Listicles (articles in the form of a list) are very popular online right now. For example, compile lists of the top 10 bars or top 5 shopping spots in your town. Or a list of must-taste dishes that are popular in your destination.
- Grab people’s attention by referencing your region, city or neighbourhood wherever you can when marketing your property.
- If there are amazing activities that your guests love to do nearby, make sure you’ve got plenty of great-looking photos of them – it will help ‘dreamers’ envisage their stay with you.
2. Planning (travellers want practical information)
By the planning phase, travellers have chosen a destination and are already browsing dates, flights, accommodation and things to do. They’re looking for useful information that can help them decide to buy.
If they land on your website, potential guests ultimately want to know if your property will meet their needs. They’ll be asking themselves practical questions such as:
- Is there a shuttle to or from the property?
- Which rooms have the best views?
- Why do some rooms cost more than others?
- Is there free parking?
- Will I have WiFi?
A guest may have dozens of digital touch points in their customer journey before they reach your website. But once they do, your website has to answer everything a guest needs to know in order to make an informed choice.
Otherwise, you risk losing their interest – and their business.
Optimise your website for planners
- Make sure your list of facilities and services is up to date, and be clear about what you offer in your property and room descriptions.
- Better still, don’t just tell them. Show them. Take photos of all your facilities, all rooms and all outdoor areas. The clearer an idea the guest has of your property, the more likely they’ll be to feel reassured enough to book.
3. Booking (travellers are ready to buy)
According to Google, the booking phase is the zero moment of truth – the point in the buying process when a customer is ready to make a purchase.
It’s imperative that your promotions are valid and actionable, add-ons are clearly stated in prices, and your booking engine encourages guests to make a decision and book.
Your website should not only be user-friendly (think clear room images and complete descriptions) but booker-friendly. The path of least resistance – the one that needs fewest clicks – is the one that leads to more reservations.
You can also use scarcity messaging to make guests feel more confident in booking and less likely to change their mind. For example, something like ‘Lock in this great price while you still can’.
Optimise your website for bookers
Would-be bookers are after a smooth website experience that doesn’t overload their brain.
- Make sure your website is intuitive and easy to navigate, with pages organised into a logical order, going from most to least important.
- Use calls-to-action, like ‘Book now’ or ‘Click here for more room information’, and make them clearly visible.
Guests can be effective promoters
When you’ve secured a traveller’s reservation and welcomed them to your property, that doesn’t mean the customer journey is over. Those guests you’ve just checked in can be a great resource in attracting and influencing new customers in the future.
Social media is the new word of mouth – and therefore an important channel for promoting your property. Most guests will have at least one social media account, and many will be active users. If you make it easy for them to share their experiences, you’ll strengthen your online presence and reputation.
Optimise your website for social-media sharers
Shared content adds a huge amount of value to your online brand the more it’s produced.
- Make it easy for guests to share their experiences at your property by enabling social-sharing locations for Facebook and Instagram. That way, they can also ‘check-in’ on social media and tag your property on their profile.
- Add promotional content that shows you offer good value for money. When guests share this on social media, it builds your credibility, drives word of mouth and indicates positive social signals.
- Add a widget on your website that allows guests to ‘email to a friend’ or share on social media. This is a great way to increase views on your website.
- Include user-generated content on your site to boost social validation. Integrated reviews from a trusted platform like Booking.com help to reassure and encourage potential guests to book with you.
As you can see, optimising your website is really all about putting yourself in the customer’s shoes. It’s about considering travellers’ needs at each stage of their online journey – whether they’re dreaming, planning, booking, experiencing or sharing.
By presenting relevant, relatable content on your website, you can capture their imagination, address their concerns, convince them to book and encourage them to promote your property to others.
And if you’re already a WebDirect partner, why not start optimising your website today? It could make the difference between a good year’s business and a great one.