When it comes to increasing direct bookings, having a professionally designed website is just the start. Most hotel websites are designed with input only from web designers and hotel marketing contacts, and are usually driven by opinions and a rigid set of best practices. But as hospitality leaders, you know that one size does not fit all. That’s why it’s crucial to monitor and update your hotel website based on real visitor behavior data. How exactly do you use data to make site design changes that increase bookings?
One of the best ways to increase hotel website bookings, is to use A/B testing to run simple tests on your website that will provide insight about how visitors are engaging with your website, and what actually makes them book.
A/B testing, also known as split testing, is a method for comparing the performance of two or more variations of a website, to see which version leads to more conversions. A piece of code is implemented onto the site, which allows some visitors to see the existing site (Version A) when they land on your page, while some visitors see a slightly different experience (Version B). The test is allowed to run for some time, and then results are analyzed to see which version lead to more conversions.
Use actual test data, not just recommendations, to increase bookings.
Most hotel website platforms provide basic visitor data, which may be reviewed by an account manager or someone from your internal marketing team to identify trends and opportunities. Go beyond these basic traffic numbers and page view information if you really want to see a boost in booking conversions. Use simple A/B testing to learn how potential guests behave on your website, and make data-driven changes to the website to increase conversions.
Test web design trends before committing to them.
Web design is constantly evolving, with fads and trends coming and going, much like fashion. What works for one property’s website to appeal to their potential guests, may not have the same expected outcome on yours. Instead of wasting time and money on building out the shiniest new web design trends, use A/B testing to try them out and see if it will actually convert visitors into guests.
A/B test different variations of your hotel website to see what leads to the most bookings.
This does not mean building two completely different versions of your website, but rather small changes that have potential to make a big difference in how visitors react.
A simple A/B Test Example: Vegas.com Mobile Site Case Study
65% of tourists book hotel reservations for the same day on a mobile device. Using the Sitespect testing tool, Vegas.com hoped to increase searches and pageviews, while decreasing bouncerate. A test page was developed which gave focus to hotel room search and category pages like hotels and shows. After running this simple test for 6 weeks, the results showed the new version:
- Reduced bounce rate 22%
- Increased pageviews 16%
- Increased hotel searches 14%
- Achieved double-digit lift in conversion rate
A few other examples of small changes that can be tested for its impact on hotel website booking conversions:
- A different headline on the homepage – the current headline on your hotel homepage may have been copywritten with guidance from an SEO expert. But is it driving visitors away once they land on your site? Try testing a different headline to see if it encourages more visitors to book.
- A different promotion – perhaps you’re running a “Book 2 Nights, Get 1 Free” promotion. You can use A/B testing to see if a slightly different promotion (for example, “Book 2 Nights, Get a Complimentary Drink”) may be even more compelling, especially if your property tends to attract more business travelers.
- Different homepage pictures – If your homepage header image is currently a shot of your property’s beautiful exterior, try testing a room photo instead to see if visitors book more.
- Different design on your booking engine page – does your analytics data reveal that visitors land on your booking engine page, but fail to complete the booking? Maybe your website design is very compelling to a potential guest, but once they get to your booking engine, something makes them change their mind. A/B testing different variations of elements on the booking engine page, the last part of the hotel shopping funnel, can be one of the most powerful and easiest ways to increase conversions.
- Different layout / colors of the Book Now button – the horizontal layout of your date / rate search box and Book Now button may complement your site’s color palette, but could updating the button’s color to a contrasting color lead to more bookings? Use A/B testing to find out.
At Convincify, we believe that A/B testing is the key to website conversion optimization – not opinions, best practices, or trends. We’ve worked with a wide range of companies, from Fortune 500 organizations, to small startups, to optimize their websites using real data. If you’d like to get started with A/B testing hotel websites for more bookings, we can help. We are an agile team of digital marketers, and our speciality is getting A/B tests up and running quickly, without needing to involve IT or developers. To learn more about us and how we can help increase hotel website bookings, sign up for a free session with an A/B testing expert.