web visuals
823 days ago
 

How rich visuals generate more travel bookings

NB: This is a guest article by Henry Woodman, president of ICE Portal.

It’s hard to find any business better suited for the internet than travel and hospitality. What industry can show “pretty pictures”, display the cost, collect money, send a confirmation email and wait for you to show up?

Not to minimize the complexity of travel technology but, let’s be honest, the consumer could care less.

So what exactly is the consumer looking for?

Specifically, according to internet psychologist Graham Jones, the leisure traveler is looking for one of two things – an escape or new experiences. The challenge for travel marketers is to effectively inspire, educate and motivate consumers with various online tools to show value for money spent.

Brain research demonstrates that human eyes are capable of registering 36,000 visual messages per hour, and 80% of information absorbed by the brain is visual in nature.

Therefore, it is critical that travel marketers consider the significant role visual factors play in both online and offline sales. Considering the sheer number of marketing messages that we are bombarded with on a daily basis, the goal is product differentiation.

According to Wikipedia, product differentiation is defined as: “… the process of distinguishing a product or offering from others, to make it more attractive to a particular target market”.

Your differentiators or USPs (unique selling propositions) should be something that is of value to your target consumer.

Three steps to help you differentiate:

  • Identify your target customer. It’s impossible to be everything to everyone. As the expression goes, “one size does not fit all, one size fits one.” Imagine creating a marketing strategy that appeals to honeymooners as well as families – good luck.
  • Identify what your target customer finds valuable. Once you’ve identified your target customer, find out their likes and dislikes. If you can satisfy the customer’s likes (eg. a secluded, quite escape), that becomes part of your overall value proposition, a differentiator, or unique selling proposition.
  • Create attractive visuals that resonate emotionally with your target customer. Now that you have identified your target consumer and what they value, show them what they want to see. Let the visuals “talk” to the target consumer in terms that clearly shows your value.

Putting price aside for the moment, visuals are the most important element to market and sell travel.

That was true before the internet, and is even more so for any internet marketing strategy. The web still offers a cost effective storefront (website) that can be accessed by almost two billion people (28.7% global penetration and growing) that are online 24/7/365 and your goal is to get your best visuals in front of as many of your target eyeballs as possible.

This means your website, your brand website, the OTA websites, social networks, everywhere!

According to a recent study by Cornell University on the so-called billboard effect, almost 75% of the traffic that booked on a hotel brand website visited an OTA prior to making the purchase, and three to nine of those bookings, were directly influenced by the OTA listing. The take away: a listing on the OTAs, will generate more bookings (on your site and the OTA).

Furthermore, if you have high quality, large photos, videos and/or 360-degree tours on your website and on the third party sites you will generate more booking, period.

Take a moment to audit your current visual assets (photos, 360-degree panoramic images, videos, slide shows). Do your visuals provide a good representation of the property, the rooms, and the differentiators?

If not, make it a priority – at the very least, update the photos. Consumers want to see the actual hotel and the rooms they can book – they should be able to clearly imagine themselves there. Primary benefits of rich visuals are to increase traffic to your website and improve look-to-book conversion.

It’s tempting to break out your digital camera and snap some images of the property, but customers can tell the difference between photographs taken by professionals and those that weren’t, and perception becomes their reality.

Quality visuals will create a positive and lasting impression of the property that helps customers decide where to book. Even a slight increase in the percentage of bookings from rich visuals shows a significant increase on your bottom line.

Let’s connect the dots. Consumers seeking a vacation are looking for rich visual content to help them understand the value. The visuals keep them more engaged with your property, no matter what site it is on. If the visuals are enticing enough, they will do some research on your property – read reviews, go to your website to find more information and rates.

If the same rich visuals are shown everywhere, the consumer gets more comfortable and will book the room.

Bottom line, creating high quality videos and/or 360 tours to show on your website as well as the travel sites selling your property delvers tremendous benefits. Studies have shown:

  • Total unique visitors to the hotel website will increase an average of 13%.
  • Rich content click-through (to booking engine) rates 4 to 5 times more than static images.
  • Rich content generates post-impression activity (return visits) rates twice those for non-rich content and 46% more sales for those activities compared to non-rich content.
  • The bounce rate (number of visitors abandoning site after viewing only one page – home page or landing page) improves by more than 5 percentage points.

Rich content is no longer a “nice to have” – it has become a “need to have” element in travel marketing strategy. Technology has made it easy for travel suppliers to create spectacular, rich content at a cost that will not break the budget.

It’s your image, how do you want prospects to “see you”!?

NB: This is a guest article by Henry Woodman, president of ICE Portal.

NB2: Image via Shutterstock.

 
 
Special Nodes

About the Writer :: Special Nodes

Special Nodes is the byline under which Tnooz publishes articles by guest authors from around the industry.

 

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  1. Stuart

    I agree with this in principle, but it’s important to serve different content (visuals) according to your user’s devices. It’s no point having a 360o virtual tour showing on someone’s smart phone when they’re on a 3G data tariff travelling between Bristol and London. However, I’m still thankful that the days of small artifacted jpgs are on the wane!

     
  2. Alberto

    Is there any reference company to have an attractive travel web design made? Thanks

     
  3. Paul Byrne

    Can you clarify what you mean by this sentence please?

    According to a recent study by Cornell University on the so-called billboard effect, almost 75% of the traffic that booked on a hotel brand website visited an OTA prior to making the purchase, and three to nine of those bookings, were directly influenced by the OTA listing. The take away: a listing on the OTAs, will generate more bookings (on your site and the OTA).

     
  4. Paul Byrne

    Can you clarify what you mean by this please, as I find the ‘three to nine’ difficult to interpret?

    According to a recent study by Cornell University on the so-called billboard effect, almost 75% of the traffic that booked on a hotel brand website visited an OTA prior to making the purchase, and three to nine of those bookings, were directly influenced by the OTA listing. The take away: a listing on the OTAs, will generate more bookings (on your site and the OTA).

     
  5. Apps permit you to be your personal tour manual all around Franklin County

    [...] How wealthy visuals create far more travel bookings Bottom line, generating high high quality movies and/or 360 tours to demonstrate on your internet site as properly as the travel internet sites marketing your property delvers tremendous advantages. Reports have shown: Total exclusive guests to the hotel internet site will improve an regular of … Examine far more on Tnooz [...]

     
  6. Steve Stollerman

    Very hard to disagree with Henry’s compelling arguments and accurate data – and at the risk of sounding self serving video has definitely become a “must have” – whether you are an independent property or a global hotel chain, you need to choose the right partner to help you with your video strategy.

    You will always need quality still images and helpful reviews but at TVtrip.com we believe video is truly the next gen media when it comes to mobile and tablet devices IPTV is just around the corner

     
  7. Dintre sute de motoare de căutare pentru cazare și zboruri ieftine pe care să îl alegem?

    [...] acest fel, dar nu aşa convingător; chiar citeam azi pe tnooz.com că elementele intens colorate îndeamnă vizitatorii la conversii - în cazul de faţa ar fi fost vorba de un widget cu hoteluri [...]

     
  8. Peter Fabricius

    Great article Henry. I wish all tourism business owners could grasp the importance of stunning visuals. It is as if our industry got ‘crippled’ with poor design because businesses are seeking the ‘WOW’ factor that projects the character and personality of their product – Instead of investing in profesional, honest and interesting visuals, we end up with cluttered, over the top online marketing material.

    Having attractive visuals means opening the door for travelers to dig deeper into your online presence and for you to leverage your other online marketing tools.

    Peter

     
  9. Sam

    This is a great article and, we will be making 360 virtual tours and making pictures stand out with the relevent content. We have done and tried to keep the site as simple and user friendly as possible, please feel free to take a look and leave me your feedback. http://www.vip5star.com

    Sam

     
  10. Geoff Vaughan

    Great article Henry and couldn’t agree more. We work really hard to promote rich visuals on our site to put the customer in a position where they can imagine booking there. Our industry is camping but the fundamentals are the same. We are essentially an OTA at Campingninja.com and are now the largest in the UK. Our daily efforts are aimed at getting the rich content from campsite owners. A classic problem is where they have an amazing campsite in a National Park and yet the photo and video content is of their upgraded toilet and shower facilities! While important if they turned around 180 degrees they could be taking photos of the mountains, hills and streams that surround them! Putting their target customers who are outdoor enthusiasts right in the picture.
    Anyway nice article.

     
  11. Rahman Mehraby

    Attractive visuals, together with the images featuring previous customers help potential travelers become more convinced about what they want to order. In my experience, word of mouth works pretty well in toughest circumstances, even if you are promoting a destination that is not approved by all the countries.

    One way of doing this is to publish VERIFIABLE testimonials from previous travelers to show to the website viewers that things are OK and a trip through you is going to be a fantastic experience.

    The other way will be writing VERIFIABLE reviews as a comment inside the site (comments, etc) or outside it (on LinkedIn, TripAdvisor, etc). This way potential clients from different parts of the world could read the reviews and buildup a better image of what they want to see.

    One more way of getting convinced is to see how a company’s service is rated in general. These days, rating of certain webpages are even playing decisive roles in achieving high search engine ranking too.

    Rahman Mehraby

    TraveList Directory

     
  12. Michelle

    Great information and it supports what Americans know to be true about visual stimuli as active members of the biggest nation of consumer goods on the planet. This is especially holds true when planning a trip or vacation, because half the fun is daydreaming abut ourselves in the place we will be traveling. That is part of the experience, is it not? Having floor plans of accommodations is akin to having Google maps of the local area. People want to know what they are getting themselves into and plan out their travel.

    As a representative of Mouse On House I must point out that there are several different ways to create rich content which you mentioned above, but you forgot interactive virtual floor plan tours. If the tours aren’t built in flash they take little time to load and are easily used by mobile and full screen computer users alike. Bottom line is if you are a travel provider and haven’t spent time upgrading the visuals your website 2012 is a good time to do it.

     
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    [...] images of the property, but customers can tell the difference between photographs … Read more on Tnooz Top 10 Things to Look for in an SEO Expert A qualified, experienced SEO expert reviews your site; [...]

     
 
 

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