Have you ever felt that your marketing efforts are in vain? You are investing in paid ads, posting regularly on social media, you set up your Google My Business account, but you are still not getting the expected direct bookings? Maybe your travel website is missing important features.
Your website is your most important channel when it comes to direct online sales. When properly created and maintained it can work as a 24/7 seller for your business.
In this article, we will discuss which travel website features are utterly important for you to convert web visitors into bookers of your tours.
But before diving into the features, let me remind the operators without a webpage why they should think twice about creating one.
A website is one of the most important resources of a business, especially for those in the travel industry. That’s because, nowadays, travel buyer’s journey takes place online.
People use social media to dream about their next trip, use Google to plan where to go, stay and things to do, and more and more travelers are booking online when they have the opportunity to do so.
According to Google, in the 12 weeks leading up to a trip, experience searches are three times bigger than hotel searches and eight times bigger than air searches.
That’s quite a lot! And if you don’t have an online presence, you will hardly be found by your potential guests.
Another interesting data from StratosJets shows that 83% of US adults want to book their trips online. The same company states that by this year an estimated 700 million people will make an online booking.
Of all these bookings, 29% are likely to be made directly with the supplier, according to Market Sampler research.
Without a website, you are missing a big share of this market. Don’t you agree?
Now that you know better about the importance of a website to your tour business, let’s cut to the chase and check the 10 crucial features every travel website should have.
The number one and most important feature to capture direct online bookings on your travel website is a book now button.
This widget enables your web visitors to choose a departure day and time for your tours, the number of seats they want, purchase add-ons and pay for their reservations. The whole process takes place online without leaving your website.
To make the most of your book now buttons you should add them to your tour pages. This way your guests can place a booking while they are inspired by your tour descriptions and images.
In order to enable a booking process on your web you need a booking system connected to it. Orioly offers this service for a one-time setup fee. Check our prices and install today a book now button on your website with the help of our support team.
Many travel websites look beautiful on a big screen, but when accessing them via mobile the layout is broken. This is a mistake that can cost you reservations.
SalesCycle data shows that 41% of all bookings were done on a mobile device in 2021, compared to 59% on a desktop. This number is to grow since 70% of all customers do their research on a mobile device (StratosJets).
You can address this issue by making your website layout responsive. A responsive design means that a website responds to the device or screen that it’s being viewed on. In other words, you customize your website layout and content to the user screen.
That is not something easy to do, and if your website is broken on small screens, I strongly recommend you contact a web developer or agency to make the necessary changes as soon as possible.
A responsive website is as important as its loading speed if you want to rank in Google’s top search positions. Furthermore, a smooth booking experience is determinant to your guests to make a reservation or not with you.
During the process of booking a tour, travelers might feel like speaking with someone from your team in order to clarify any doubts and feel enough confident to book with you.
Long waiting times and bad customer support are some of the reasons why travelers give up booking with tour operators. You can avoid that by making sure you have enough contact points on your website and informing potential guests about your supporting team’s working hours and average response time.
Keep in mind that each traveler has a preferred contact channel when dealing with a supplier. That could be through chat, email, phoning, or submitting a form.
According to Kayako, 41% of customers prefer live chat support, 32% phone calls, 23% contact via email and 3% social media.
As more contact points your website has, the better it is. If possible, add all the mentioned above to make sure you are contemplating all potential guests.
Your tour description can make or break your chances to receive new bookings. An effective tour description should:
The secret to increasing your online sales is to write tour descriptions with your target customer in mind. Each business has an ideal customer profile, if you don’t know yours, better read this article to learn how to identify yours.
For example, if you sell for the American market, you should add elements to your tour description that will make this public connect with your business. That could be past guest reviews or simply pictures showing off this public enjoying your tours.
Giving a bold name and promise to your tours is very important to call your guests’ attention to learn more about it.
For example, if you offer walking tours in Zagreb focused on stories that are not conventional about the city, you can call it “Underground Zagreb Walking Tour”.
The premise could be “Meet the underground tunnels of Zagreb, learn about the communist past of the city and walk inside an authentic basement used as a shelter during the war”.
This section must highlight the tour price, departure times, duration, meeting point, group size, what is included and not included, and what to bring.
Tip: Place it at the top of your description.
A good itinerary should have a description of all the places your guests are going to visit, eye-catching visuals to illustrate them, and important information about the tour, such as an indication of where to meet and where the tour ends.
A good idea is to add a summary of the itinerary to your tour description and complement it with a PDF that your guests can download and check the complete information about the tour.
All the details and information about your tour should entice travelers to book. You can achieve that with good storytelling. That is, writing a tour description that inspires readers about your tour instead of making them bored just by reading it.
This section is very important to answer the most common doubts guests might have in order to book with you.
You can learn more about writing irresistible tour descriptions on this webinar by Kelsey Torner from Guest Focus.
A picture is worth a thousand words. This old saying is one hundred percent true when it comes to travel. A beautiful image of your tour is capable to invoke an emotional response that can lead prospective guests to book with you.
Flourish your tour pages by adding a gallery with images of your guests having fun, your guides showing off an interesting attraction, and nice pictures of the sights that are part of the itinerary. A big and breathtaking image at the top of the page will also call the attention of visitors to learn more about the tour.
The quality of the image is very important, so consider hiring a professional photographer to take them. If you don’t have the budget, try negotiating a discount in exchange for a free tour. Another option is to ask your guests permission to use their photos if the quality is good.
When possible, also add videos to your tour page. This type of content has shown great results in inspiring travelers to book. An idea is to upload a virtual tour to your page. This way your website visitors will know what to expect from the live experience.
A blog is an important travel website feature and an asset to your business. It’s the core of your content marketing strategy and a key piece of your SEO.
Blogs written following SEO rules can rank on top of Google, which means more people will spot your business and visit your website.
A basic blog strategy should follow the steps below:
Over time, as more articles are added to your blog, the more organic traffic your website will get and, eventually, you will start receiving more direct bookings.
A great addition to your blog is a downloadable resource that visitors can receive in exchange for their personal information. You can ask for their name, email and country of residence. This way you start building your email list in order to send email marketing campaigns.
An extra layer of security could be the final push your prospective guests need to book with you. As a general rule of thumb, the more risk you’re able to remove from your prospective buyers the higher your conversion rate.
If you don’t offer any guarantees to your customers, elaborating and adding some policies to your website is a good start.
Travelers are cautious when booking, especially after experiencing two years of travel restrictions and closed borders.
According to Amadeus’ research, in a post-pandemic world, 37% of travelers fear last-minute cancellations or changes due to travel restrictions. They also found out that 40% of travelers feel more confident to book when the travel provider has automated and flexible cancellation policies.
To overcome this fear, it’s important that you have a clear refund and cancellation policy. For example, implement a free cancellation up to 24h before a tour or a full refund in case the tour is canceled.
Every day we read news about data breaches that may put the people affected at scam risk. This is one of the reasons why travelers are cautious when giving their credit card and personal information online.
To increase your website security, and travelers’ confidence in your business, you should:
Your policies should be visible to your website visitors. Consider adding them to the website footer, below your book now button and checkout. You can also send your policies via email to your guests right after they book with you.
Feedback from past guests is strong social proof for your business and a very important feature of your travel website. In other words, they help you with sales.
Probably you have many reviews stored on platforms such as TripAdvisor and Google My Business. Pick a few and add them to your home and tour pages.
I recommend you choose reviews that address guests’ concerns, such as the tour itinerary, the knowledge of the guide, how fun the experience is, etc. Also, try to select reviews from people that are part of your target audience.
If you don’t have any reviews to show off, here you go a few tips to start collecting them:
Tour guides are the heart and soul of your business. So, why not show more about them on your website?
You can add a section containing information about your guides, such as their background, interests, which tours they handle, tour pictures, videos and any other information that travelers might find relevant or interesting regarding them.
Getting to know your guides might sparkle interest in your tours. It is also a great addition to the content you post on social media and is another traffic source for your website.
On top of that, showing the faces behind your business helps humanize your brand which gives an extra push for potential guests to book with you.
As important as adding the right content and features to your travel website is understanding your visitors’ behavior when navigating through your web pages.
Tools such as Google Analytics and HotJar can give you valuable insights regarding this matter.
This data is gold for your marketing campaigns. Understanding it will help you better communicate with your target audience and create more appealing visuals for your ads. You can also use these insights to optimize your website in order to increase your conversions.
Your website is your main channel for receiving direct bookings. Because of that, you should avoid pitfalls by making sure to build a complete and informative website that will improve the overall guest experience with your brand.
In this article, we presented you with 10 travel website features to boost your online direct bookings:
Now that you know the key features of a travel website, there is just one thing left to turn it into an online sales machine: connect it to an online booking system. Learn more about why you should do that in our ebook Advantages of Using Online Booking Software.
on March 8, 2023
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