3 years ago

Putting the (shopping) cart before the horse won’t drive online conversion

It can be easy to forget, but the main purpose of a travel website isn’t to drive conversions; it’s to provide a convenient guest resource.

Of course, conversions are always a primary goal, but they should never be considered a starting point. In fact, to build a site in an attempt to convert is to place the cart way before the horse.

Whether you’re providing guests with information about your destination or allowing them to make bookings online, it’s important to note that online conversion is built on guest satisfaction, and not the other way around.

NB: This is a viewpoint from Himanshu Sareen, CEO of Icreon Tech.

If your site isn’t convenient, or if it lacks visual clarity, there’s very little incentive for guests to move forward with an enquiry or purchase.

Having built technology for clients like Kenya Airways and the Statue of Liberty Ellis Island Foundation, Icreon has learned a lot about what it takes to keep customers’ attention and to guide their experience on the web.

Here are five ways you can adjust your own web presence to boost guest satisfaction.

1. Develop trust with storytelling

Trust is an important concern for travel industry consumers. If they’re going to visit your destination or spend money on your services, they want to make sure their experience won’t just be memorable, but also safe and valuable.

There’s also a major opportunity cost of travel; if a guest decides to visit Copenhagen, they’re giving up a trip to Tahiti.

One recent trend we’re seeing pop up is for tourism websites to turn their homepages into self-contained stories which conclude with calls-to-action at the bottom of the page.

Visit Brasil, for instance, plays out like a scrollable picture book. Luxurious high-res slideshows punctuate the page from top to bottom, with a “Ready to Visit” CTA greeting users once they reach the end.

This structure accomplishes multiple things: It tells a story about the destination, provides users with resources, and calls them to action after they’ve established a rapport.

Also worth noting is the fixed toolbar that stays in the window and features its own call to action, in case users are ready to take immediate steps.

2. Build up small wins

Today’s innovations don’t usually come in the form of massive paradigm shifts, but as smaller, more effective product tweaks.

The sign of a good travel website is to compile these tweaks in a way that makes the user experience feel truly seamless. One way to do this is by using the cloud to preemptively gather, process and contextualize user information.

With the cloud, tourism companies can let their users log into multiple apps at the same time without having to enter their password multiple times.

It seems like a small change, sure, but by using the cloud, companies can implement a wide range of efficient shortcuts throughout their software. And in the travel industry, where conversions hinge on convenience, these UX improvements really add up.

3. Put your calls to action everywhere

No matter where a visitor ends up on your website, they should always have something to act upon. Whether you place a shopping cart in your header or keep a booking module in your sidebar, you’ll want to make sure your site can immediately handle a customer’s decision to act.

Online travel agent Hotwire is a great example of quality calls to action. In addition to including a booking form at the top of its homepage, it also allows visitors to input their phone number to be sent a download link for the Hotwire App.

At the bottom of the page, there’s an email subscription form that gives users $10 off their next hotel stay. From the homepage alone, there is already a host of options for participation, and they all offer something different to the user.

The less clutter there is between your website and actionable pages, the more visitors you’ll be able to convert.

4. Stay one step ahead of your audience

Developing a well-executed call to action is a great way to make your site more audience-friendly, but we’re starting to see the next step in its evolution begin to unfold: Customer anticipation.

Virgin America has only been around since 2007, but the airline has built a reputation for its smooth execution and charismatic branding. Maybe that’s why its site treats customer trust as a foregone conclusion.

Instead of telling a story or trying to convince visitors of its trustworthiness, Virgin America skips right to business.

Its responsive site takes the user’s current location and lays out the most popular destinations from that location to fill out their booking information the moment the site is opened. This won’t work for every tourism company, but the predictive element is a standard that more businesses will have to strive toward if they want to keep up.

5. Make it responsive

Responsive Design is a type of web design that “responds” to the viewer’s input to look great at any size. It’s been around for a while now, but is gaining significance within the travel industry as more customers begin using mobile to book travel.

Belize’s tourism board has a responsive site, and executes on all of the previous points in a way that’s clean and visitor-friendly. It builds trust, it features prominent calls to action and it works seamlessly on mobile.

Not only does the page design adjust to the user’s selected size, but it also streamlines the site content to maintain emphasis on the most important site details.

The logo is clearly visible at the top of the page, and the clear calls to action are prominently featured in colors that immediately pop. On top of all this, the site is always up-to-date with new and enticing content that adds an ongoing sense of value for all visitors.

NB: This is a viewpoint from Himanshu Sareen, CEO of Icreon Tech.

NB2: Shopping trolley image via Shutterstock.

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About the Writer :: Viewpoints

A founding principle of tnooz was a diversity of viewpoints from across the spectrum. Viewpoints are articles by guest contributors from around the travel and hospitality industries. The views expressed are the views and opinions of the author and do not reflect or represent the views of his employer, tnooz, its writers, or partners.



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