Easy. Quick. Seamless. User-friendly. These are probably a few of the words that come to mind when you think of the ideal booking experience for a tour or attraction.
As an operator, you know that the booking process can make or break your customer’s decision to finalize a purchase. Yet each booking journey is made up of many moving parts. The goal is to take customers from the first time they heard about you to booking an experience without any hiccups.
In this post, we’ll discuss how to create an online booking experience that meets your customers’ expectations — in other words, one that they can breeze through hassle-free.
What is the booking experience?
The booking experience refers to the process a customer goes through when booking a tour or attraction online.
Everything from the ad that brought them to your site to the actual layout of the homepage can impact a guest’s booking experience. And this is before they even arrive at your checkout page.
Once there, the checkout process and the customer service they receive along the way can have a tremendous impact on your overall customer experience.
Why is the booking experience important?
Most will begin their journey when they land on your site. As they browse through your offerings, they’ll begin to form an opinion about your brand.
- A quick-loading website? Great first impression. They’re more inclined to book.
- A website that’s difficult to navigate? Bad first impression. Maybe they couldn’t find your tour pages.
If your website is difficult to navigate, a guest’s booking journey might end right there on your homepage.
Improving your booking experience involves improving every touchpoint of the customer journey. The easier it is for guests to make a booking, the less inclined they’ll be to jump ship and move on to a competitor.
Notably, improving your booking experience is one way to increase your website conversions. So yes, a few hours spent optimizing your website and checkout page can increase your bookings and directly impact your bottom line.
7 tips to improve the online booking experience
How can we put this into practice? Here are seven ways you can begin to improve your booking experience.
1. Use online booking software
Investing in online booking software, like Xola, can save you (and your staff) a lot of time. This is because booking software can automate the booking process, send confirmation emails, and even allow customers to make changes to their booking without the need for manual intervention.
Beyond that, booking software will also benefit your company because:
- Your guests can book 24/7. Your website will continue generating sales even after business hours.
- It helps you and your team stay organized. The software keeps track of customer information, tour guide schedules, equipment inventory, and more.
- It will help you drive more direct bookings. The easier you make it for guests to book your tours, the more sales you’ll make. Booking software will provide your site with big “Book now” buttons, a secure checkout, and even seasonal pop-ups offering discounts.
2. Simplify your website
A cluttered website can be overwhelming for customers and deter them from booking with you. Keep your website design clean. Here are a few tips to help you achieve that:
- Stay visually consistent, such as choosing the same fonts, colors, and buttons should across all pages
- Use familiar design elements, such as a green rectangle for your “Book now” button
- Eliminate sidebars or pop-ups on your checkout page
- Include a “Book now” button at the top of your website. The “Book now” button is the most important call to action on your website and should be one of the very first things customers see when they land on your site.
3. Use high-quality images and videos
Visual content like photos and videos can help customers imagine themselves on your tour or attraction. Use high-quality visuals that showcase the experience and highlight the unique aspects of your offering. User-generated content can accomplish the same goal, especially photos that show past customers having a great time.
What makes a high-quality image?
- Your images should tell a story or evoke emotions, giving potential customers a glimpse of what they can expect from your tour.
- High resolution photos will make your brand look more professional, whereas a pixelated image might do the opposite.
- Your photos should always have a subject, or a focal point, with a balanced composition that guides the viewer’s eye.
4. Add social proof
Testimonials, Tripadvisor reviews, and social media shout-outs can all add credibility to your website. You can feature reviews on your homepage, tour pages, and checkout pages to give customers that extra boost in confidence to complete a booking.
Here are three tips to get more reviews from your customers:
- Ask for them. This might sound obvious, yet may require a bit of practice. Your staff is usually trained to serve customers’ needs over their own, which can make asking for reviews a bit uncomfortable.
- When you ask for a review, frame the request in a way that shows customers how their feedback can help you and your staff. For example, if an escape room wants to open a new location, tell customers that their reviews can help the business expand.
- Incentivize your staff to ask for reviews, such as providing a cash bonus or some other reward to guides when their name is mentioned in a five-star review.
5. Optimize your tour descriptions
Your tour pages can make or break a booking. They should have clear and compelling tour descriptions, detailed itineraries, a list of what’s included, and social proof in the form of photos and/or reviews.
When writing a tour description, keep the following in mind:
- Give it a catchy title
- Feature beautiful photos
- Use storytelling techniques to transport the reader to the experience
- Answer frequently asked questions
- Highlight what makes the tour unique
- Be transparent about pricing, what’s included, and levels of difficulty, if relevant
6. Make it easy for them to pay
Not all customers will have the same payment preferences. Offering multiple payment options, such as credit card, PayPal, and Apple Pay can increase the likelihood of customers booking with you.
Providing several payment options is just one factor of a great checkout experience. Also consider:
- Displaying a booking summary before the final payment page, allowing customers to double-check their information.
- Making your checkout page mobile-friendly so guests can book on the go.
- Limit the number of form fields that need to be filled out.
A positive booking experience is crucial for tour and attraction operators to attract and retain customers. Investing in online booking software is the first step.