5 Conversion Optimization Tips to Increase Bookings
- September 26, 2017|
- Mike Archer|
Increasing traffic is great but once you get your prospect to your website, it’s really important to get them to actually book with you. If you don’t, then all the time and money you’ve spent on marketing is wasted. We want visitors to take a specific action once they land on your website; that’s the whole point!
That’s where conversion rate optimization comes into play. We want to make improvements to the site that will encourage more visitors to book with you.
Many of the most effective conversion optimization tips will require extensive planning, design, and developer resources. Even if you want to create some independent landing pages to test different page layouts or variations, you’ll still need the help of a designer and someone proficient with testing tools.
We would ideally recommend a full strategic testing plan that incorporates your business goals and KPIs, audience research, your development capabilities, a professional testing platform like Google Optimize or Optimizely, and strict testing procedures and experiments. Unfortunately, most small business owners have so many things on their plate that they don’t have time to worry about the details of conversion rate optimization.
To keep things simple, we’ve compiled a few basic, and often overlooked tips, that property managers can implement without the need of a web developer. These tips can make a difference in how your visitors interact with your website, how long they stay on a property page, and how many of them ultimately turn into bookings.
Below you’ll find five easy conversion optimization tips to jumpstart the improvement process of your site to increase your direct bookings.
Tip #1: Use Eye-Catching Featured Photos on Category Pages
Naturally, most vacation rental sites contain category pages listing all of the properties available for rent. These category pages tend to get the most traffic on your site so you’ll have to decide on a great featured photo to showcase your properties. This is one of the most important photos since it will entice your visitors to select the property based on this initial visual information.
If your visitors land on a category page from the search engines, and they are turned off by the quality of the photos or if the images are just boring, they’ll leave your site and go right back to the search engines to visit one of your competitors.
Try to find the most beautiful photo of your property. One that captures the unique nature of what that property has to offer. Have you had your property’s interior designed by a professional interior designer? If so, let’s show it off! If the property has a fantastic view of the ocean from the balcony, then use that photo. Any professional photo that gets your visitor’s attention will help draw them deeper into the site.
Tip #2: Use Descriptive Headlines
Website visitors have very short attention spans. You want to be sure that your visitors can grasp the unique features of a property within the first 2-3 seconds of them visiting the page. Don’t waste valuable real estate listing out redundant information. If they can sort or filter properties by features like the number of bedrooms then you don’t need to include that in the headline. Stick to descriptive headlines that will capture the visitor’s attention.
- What makes your property unique?
- Does it have a balcony overlooking the ocean?
- Can you view local wildlife nearby?
- Is it extremely private?
- Is it quieter than your other properties?
- Does it have a large recreation room or theater?
- Does it have easy beach access?
Quiet, Beachfront Condo Perfect for Relaxing Business Trip
Enjoy Breakfast While Viewing Local Wildlife
All of these details can differentiate your headlines from the competition and entice your visitors to book with you because your property caught their attention by being unique.
Tip #3: Focus on the Experience
Your guests are not going to recommend your properties to their friends by telling them that they stayed at an amazing vacation rental with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths! That’s boring and no one has ever said that…ever.
Instead, they’ll say that they shared a delicious breakfast while viewing the most amazing sunrise from their private balcony that overlooked the beach.
They’re describing the experience that they had from your vacation rental home.
Help the prospects that are still considering your property to visualize what it feels like to be there.
Rewrite your property descriptions to emphasize the amazing experience that the traveller will encounter while staying there. Don’t just restate the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and TVs. Your visitors can get that information from reading the table of amenities you’ve listed on the page. Use this copy to describe the property’s finer details or what events the property can be used for.
For example, tell your visitors that this property has been used in the past for a “girl’s weekend” and how everyone had a great time. You can describe how each of the bathrooms feature double sinks or that the rooms include vanities so that getting ready for a night out on the town is a breeze.
Describe, in detail, how easy it is to walk to the local farmer’s market from the home. Highlight the different boutique shops that they’ll pass along the way and the local coffee shop that they’ll have to try.
Then describe how excited their friends will be when they find out which property they’ve selected for their getaway. They’ll surely be the hero for finding this hidden gem!
Just remember, you don’t have to pigeonhole a specific property for only one target audience but creating more engaging copy will surely improve your conversion rates as well as your search engine visibility.
Tip #4: Incorporate Storytelling Into Property Descriptions
Everyone loves a good story. This is especially true when it comes to writing descriptions about products or services. Storytelling as a marketing tactic can be very powerful and is much more engaging to your visitors, which in turn, will keep them on the page longer.
Ask your guests if they have any compelling stories to share with you about their stay. You may even be able to extract a story from reviews that guests have left on your page.
Maybe they took your advice about a local hike and encountered some beautiful wildlife on the trail or came across a breathtaking waterfall after they veered off course. The person that is considering this property would love to know more about this experience. Share it with them!
Here’s an example of how a vacation rental manager in Hawaii might incorporate a guest’s story into the page content.
(spoiler alert: the couple in the story is my wife and I)
We had a newlywed couple from Phoenix, AZ stay in this vacation rental a few years ago. A very popular rental for honeymooners. They told us about how they had tried to find interesting tours in the area but couldn’t find any to their liking. They went for a hike up Diamond Head instead.
“As we reached the top of the hike and were taking in the views, we encountered a man named Mitch Berger. He was offering group tours to adventurous people who would appreciate visiting several spiritual and interesting landmarks on the island. We were initially pretty skeptical, as most people would be after being approached by a stranger who was trying to lure them into the Hawaiian jungle. We politely informed him that we had already booked a tour for later in the day and kind of just blew him off. We didn’t want to be harassed or sold to while on vacation. Who does, right?
Then my wife and I started to discuss it a little bit more. We thought about how boring the other tours looked and how we wouldn’t have a unique story to tell if we took a standard sightseeing tour. We wanted more than that. We wanted to experience the “real” Hawaii! We wanted a local to show us some cool spots around the island.
We quickly turned to our phones and looked him up on TripAdvisor to see if he was legit. What we found was surprising. We saw that he had been awarded the “Certificate of Excellence” from TripAdvisor several years in a row and was listed as one of the top tour guides on the Honolulu tour list. He also had a nearly perfect rating from the reviews his customers had given. We decided it was worth it and canceled our other tour.”
The group tour had a pickup location that was just two blocks over from this vacation rental property so it was very accessible. The couple mentioned how much fun they had on this unique group tour of Hawaii.
“On one of the stops, we took a small hike through lush vegetation to a semi-remote location that was in a scene from a very popular tv show. We even got to take some time to wade and swim in a pool at the base of a waterfall. He gave everyone time to relax and take photos before we moved on. How often can you do that from a tour bus?
We also stopped to take a hike through a very cool bamboo forest which is something neither of us had done before. Other stops included educational, archaeological, and even mythological landmarks.
This was exactly what we wanted. We wanted to venture off the paved streets of Honolulu to have a better experience.
We highly recommend this tour and of course, Mitch, because it was such a great way to experience Hawaii. We had a great time, met some really cool people, and got a memorable story to take home with us from our trip.”
We love for our guests to leave their vacations with a fantastic story to share with friends and family.
Hopefully, it was more interesting to read this story than have me just tell you to include more stories. Your stories don’t have to be this long, but they can certainly grab the attention of your visitors better than talking about how many bathrooms your property has. 😉
Find ways to incorporate these stories into the way you sell your property and your visitors will be more likely to book because they’ll want to experience these stories for themselves.
Tip #5: Include Several Stunning Photos on Property Pages
This tip probably doesn’t come as a surprise to many property managers but it’s not uncommon to encounter a vacation rental property that only has a handful of photos. When people are considering which company to rent from or which property to choose, they’re going to do so by viewing all of the photos that you have available.
Be sure to include compelling images of the important rooms of the property. Include photos of the bedrooms but make sure they’re of high quality. Make them look inviting, comfortable, and amazing. You can get inspiration from places like Pinterest to find ideas on how to make your rooms stand out more. Get updated sheets and comforters and add additional throw pillows to make them look more professional.
Include photos of the eating space and the kitchen. Clean up the room and highlight the spacious counters and shiny surfaces. Remove all the clutter before taking the photo to convey an inviting atmosphere. Sure, many travelers will eat out at restaurants but some may want to cook a few meals themselves or at least have coffee in the morning. Since some travellers will want to have their morning coffee before heading out, be sure to include the coffee maker in the photo as well.
Show them that while staying with you they won’t have to sacrifice many of the comforts that they’re used to having at home.
If you do update your pages with these tips, be sure to test them on a few key pages first. Also be sure to benchmark your conversions before and after using your analytics software. You’ll want to know what changes helped improve your conversion rates so that you can roll out the changes on a larger scale.
If you’re looking for a more in-depth process for CRO or you’re looking for a partner to manage it all for you, contact us today about our conversion rate optimization services.