January 07, 2012

E-Distribution: 3 tips to convert Visitors to Customers on Your Travel Site

E-Distribution: 3 tips to convert Visitors to Customers on Your Travel Site

As online distribution gains momentum, more travel related resources become accessible. Customer exposure to numerous travel products and services can be overwhelming at times. So what drives consumers to purchasing services from one provider and not the other? More specifically: how to convince visitors on your site to purchase your products?

In our dynamic environment, achieving brand identity seems sometimes impossible, especially on international level. Entrance costs, advertisement, translation services, SEO campaign and marketing expenses seem just too expensive, and many travel agencies forfeit this issue altogether. However establishing brand identity is a much easier and cheaper task than many think.
Why is this so important?

Before your customers are willing to pay their hard earned cash for their long anticipated vacation, you need to earn their trust.

We identified three key elements:
1. Your website appearance – clean design, updated logo, good functionality, aesthetic content, customization of colours and fonts, special place for packages,various association and accreditation badges, security of payments – SSL, professional layout – All these make your hotel website seem not only more appealing and user friendly, but also trustworthy and professional.

How much would you expect to spend on your website redesign? AED 15-20,000 can usually cover all your branding needs. When selecting a graphic design studio, be sure to review their works portfolio, and inquire about their expertise in travel themed websites specifically. If you are tied on budget, work it out with your finance manager, instead of going through a cheaper solution (freelance, internal) because it will slow down the process and overall impact. An easy way to look at your cost, would be to ask your finance manager the level of commission paid on a monthly basis to OTA (Online travel agencies) and evaluate how much savings you could so in that expense field. His answer will finance your budget. Remember you are aiming at powering your brand web bookings.

What we recommend for the booking engine experience, is to select an IBE (Internet booking engine) with:
- Ability of free flowing calendar,
- Ability to merchandize your hotel (Upsell, Transportation options, spa options, cancellation rules options),
- Ability to connect your booking experience with social media,

2. Customer experience – In order to retain clients and make their use of your website pleasant and entertaining, you need to engage them, think of promotions, free offers etc. Don’t forget, the customer experience doesn’t end with booking on your website, it continues until your client returns from his vacation.

In order to make sure that the customer won’t cancel his booking after receiving a shady booking confirmation or if he can’t get in touch with reservation department either by email or phone, you need to cover following aspects.
- Well designed order confirmations, hotel vouchers,
- Your own hotel copyright professional pictures,
- Follow up emails for customer polls,
- Email signatures,
- Avoid placing Google ads on your website: having an OTA Google ads on your website, and you can forget your strategies.

3. Reviews and social media – User generated reviews combined with social media applications can be your best friends or enemies if neglected. By gaining reviews from your customers you will eventually have a large base of information that can be used to generate additional sales. With social media revolution taking place, consumers are listening and relying on each other far more than they rely on you. Don't use your Facebook page like your own Facebook accounts with your friends. Power it with some unique graphic tools, that re-enforce your branding aspects. The more trust you will be able to gain, the more customers will trust you in return.

For IBE (Internet Booking Engine) recommendations, you can get in touch with RSVP Hospitality at info@rsvp-hospitality.com

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