Categories : by Linda Griffin Learn Booking Strategies

 

Chasing without Santa 123rf 32957952_sI’m planning a Girlfriends Getaway Trip to Walt Disney World this Spring to attend the EPCOT Flower and Garden Show. Due to the nature of the trip we plan to stay on the Disney Property for easy access to the Flower Show and workshops.

With the myriad of lodging options, I was tempted to create a spreadsheet to have any hope of picking the property that offers the best amenities, is strategically located, and fits my budget. I spent one entire evening looking at travel advice sites that specialize in Disney properties. I then browsed the Disney website and played some ‘what-if’ games to determine the cost of staying at various properties. In the end, I abandoned the cart prior to making any reservations because I’m still in the planning and research stage of my trip.

Billions of dollars are spent by travel industry properties every year to drive traffic to their websites, yet 81% of visitors leave before completing their booking. SaleCycle, an email and online remarketing company, decided to find out why with a survey of 1000 people.

Questions asked included a couple of basic questions such as whether the guest typically makes reservations online, via phone, or in person. The rest of the six question survey focused on whether the individual had ever abandoned a booking, and if so, why. Finally, they asked under what circumstances a guest would ever return to an abandoned booking.

The top two reasons for booking abandonment were ‘Just looking’ and ‘Price too high’ with over half of the responders abandoning the booking at the point they were shown the price.

When asked when they might return to the booking, 43% said ‘Within one week’.

While this data is very interesting, you’re probably wondering if there is anything you can do as an innkeeper to influence the number of potential guests who abandon their booking reservations before completing them.

I believe the answer is Yes! Using my trip to Disney World as an example, I would have made the booking on the first evening of my research if it had been easy for me to find a lodging choice that fit my needs perfectly:

  • Within easy walking distance to EPCOT
  • Lots of onsite eating options
  • A spa on the property
  • Limited focus on kids activities since this will be an adults only trip
  • An enticingly priced lodging package which included a meal plan and tickets to the parks

I’m sure that all of the above items exist, however, while navigating the Disney website, it wasn’t obvious for me to find and that’s the key word: Obvious!

As innkeepers, you’re in a perfect position to make it easy and obvious for your guests to determine that your property is the right choice for them. Inspect your website as if you were a first time guest.  Is it designed from the guest’s point of view with easy navigation, lots of photos and prominent contact information? You want guests to fall in love with your inn right on the website and stop looking for other properties!

  • Is your contact information (name, address, city, state, phone number and email) up-to-date and visible on every page? Does it include a map of the surrounding area and directions to your property? Special maps are very easy to create using one of the free Google services.
  • Are there current links to upcoming local events? Even better do you have a page on your website with a package deal promotion which ties in lodging at your inn with event tickets?
  • Are there lots of photos of the property including close-ups, seasonal variations, and unexpected angles?

Putting yourself in the guest’s shoes and eliminating the reasons why they might leave your site without a booking will help you to reduce the abandonment measurement significantly.

The website questions above are from the Nine Website Essentials Checklist which can be found in the book Maximum Occupancy in chapter Eight: Guest Attraction Features. Find out more at www.maxoccupancybook.com

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