According to a report by J.D. Power and Associates, out of the 70% of travelers that booked their travel online in 2008, only 16% of those people made reservations through independent travel websites. While the rate of travelers booking online is increasing (from 53% in 2007 to 70% in 2008), the number of reservations made through independent travel sites is on the decline. Why are independent booking sites losing out? An article in Yahoo Travel News reveals customer dissatisfaction of booking through independent travel websites is linked to the following factors: pricing, problems with content, pop-ups and having to download new software in order to book. Another travel source lists six factors that are used to measure customer satisfaction in order of importance: “price, how easy it is to book, usefulness of the information on the site, availability of booking options, appearance/ design of Website, and ease of navigation.” These reasons are similar, and businesses: take heed.
If 70%of travelers are booking travel on the internet, how are you going to get travelers to your site (and to book through your booking engine)? For one, this is where SEO and well-written content become vital to your site. A report and survey conducted by J.D. Power and Associates revealed that in 2008, customers who are very satisfied with their booking experience online are 50% more likely to return to the same website to book their next trip. Retention is important, so let’s return to the six factors that measure customer satisfaction starting with number one.
1. Price—this is something that your business must determine internally, but don’t become set in your ways. Engage your customers through promotions, deals, family rates etc. to make travel more accessible to them and to draw them in to choose your business first.
2. How easy it is to book travel on your site—directive site content is extremely important as well as an easily-navigable booking system. Fine tune your booking system to avoid unnecessary flash that forces potential customers to download new programs before being able to work through your booking system. Limit the pop-ups and advertisements that you allow as to not frustrate your customers who simply want to get tickets or reservations through your site.
3. Usefulness of Site information—this is where your site can significantly benefit from Search Engine Optimization and custom content. Search Engine Optimization done right will use the most popular keywords and integrate them into well-written, user-friendly content that will make your site rank high on search engines, outshining your competition. This is extremely necessary because you need to make your site visible online before you can expect people to reserve tickets or a room with your business. If travelers can’t find you on the internet, you are setting yourself up for failure. SEO is crucial for making your site stand out online. 10Best Solutions tackles the demand for useful site information through SEO, but also through engaging destination content and custom content requested from our clients. Our results show that well-written destination content drives traffic to sites and increases site popularity by engaging users with helpful and interesting information. If your users enjoy your site; if your site information is helpful—the more likely you are to get business, increase rankings, and encourage people to use your online booking system (driving up ROI).
4. Availability of booking options – again, make sure your website clearly directs people with different needs where to go. People want to know if they have to give their credit card to make a reservation, how secure it is if they give out their credit card number, if they need to cancel their reservation/ how and what are the penalties, what to do if they have children, how to make group reservations and so on. Make sure your site has clear directions. Make sure that your booking system is intuitive, but also utilize your SEO/ content writers to draw up a list of frequently asked questions to make the booking options very clear to your users. Meeting your customers varying needs and questions upfront will make them more likely to return to your website.
5. Appearance/ design of Website—Design is important for your website, this can pertain to graphics, layout and placement of content. If your site is not visually appealing, consider hiring a designer to re-organize and give you fresh graphics—it could be worth it. Also, if your site does not load quickly, you will lose users due to impatience.
6. Ease of navigation—ease of navigation can be accomplished through a well-written and designed site that gives direction to users on how to get to the sections of the site they want to read. Have some people outside your company try to navigate your site and give you feedback. Good site architecture and well-written, directive content is something that an SEO firm like 10Best Solutions uses to improve user experience and site traffic.
Pleasing customers, making your site visible online, having informative content and an easily navigable site are all crucial to drive customer satisfaction and online booking. As you can see, your business may need to outsource to construct the best site possible.