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3-Step Formula for Doubling your Online Restaurant or Hotel Bookings

how to increase online bookings

You currently get a good amount of traffic to your website.

That’s great news.

But, for some reason you’re finding they’re not sticking around to actually make a reservation.

Does this sound familiar?

I will show you several ways you can turn more of these visitors into reservations by making just a few small tweaks to your website.

Many boutique hotels and restaurants spend so much time and money on marketing tactics to attract new customers to their website, but once they get there they only stay for a couple of seconds before leaving. WITHOUT making a reservation.

The methods I’m about to outline to you can transform your website from one that struggles to achieve any bookings to one that can reliably turn your visitors into reservations, leaving you fully booked.

The 3-Step Formula for maximising reservations

Over the years we’ve worked on numerous websites and seen exactly what works and what doesn’t when it comes to getting visitors to do what you want them to.

Each website followed a similar formula that ultimately was able to increase reservations. It’s this three-step formula that I will be sharing with you today. It looks like this:

3 step formula for reservations

It combines persuasive, emotive and technical website features, which when applied correctly can double your online reservations.

Not convinced? Well look at it like this. Your website is your prime sales person, you’ve paid a lot for him but unless you’ve given him the tools he needs or trained him in how to sell, how can you expect him to do the job properly and get you those reservations?

He needs to be trained in all three areas before he is ready to bring in the sales for you.

Step one – Persuasive

Sometimes website visitors need some gentle persuasion before they feel they have all the information they need to go ahead and make a reservation. These are the main persuasion tactics we employ on our sites:

  • Clear, Benefit-Driven Value Proposition
    Your value proposition or USP needs to be clear for visitors as soon as they come onto your website. The home page is likely to be your main landing page, so make sure you include this sentence towards the top of the page. It needs to convey how you are different or special as well as how it will benefit them. A good value proposition will resonate with your visitors and give them more reason to stay on your site. Here’s an example:

“Escape the city and find peace and relaxation in our architectural meets arboreal style lodges and tree houses within deer-dotted pastures and peaks.”

Now you know exactly what you’re getting and doesn’t it sound enticing! You get to escape the city and relax, and it explains how too.

  • Professional Photography
    On Airbnb, hosts with professional photography are booked 2.5 times more frequently than those without. Plus, according to TNOOZ, doubling a hotel’s online pictures can result in 4.5% take-up and $3.50 higher average daily rate. It’s worthy of investment.
  • Video
    In a similar way to photography, professional video can offer a greater insight into the experience your customers will receive if they book with you. If you’re asking customers to part with a lot of money and there’s any doubt in their minds as to what they’ll get for that money, you can easily dispel any hesitations using a well crafted video capturing as much of your boutique hotel or restaurant experience as you can.
    Click here to see a website that utilises video well.
  • Social Proof
    Social proof in the form of testimonials, reviews or awards are all great credibility indicators. When your website visitors see these they feel more confident to make that booking, especially if it’s for a special occasion. They can see that others have enjoyed their experience and therefore they will too.
  • Strong primary call to action
    Are you familiar with the phrase ‘don’t make me think’? If you have a strong call to action in a prime position (higher up the page), then it will minimise hesitation time.
    Your call to action may say something like ‘Book a room’ or ‘Reserve a table’ but it also needs to be the only primary call to action on the page. You can have other call to actions, but they need to look secondary and not take any focus off the primary one

Step two – Emotive

Feelings and emotions are a huge part of an online buyer’s experience, so we must tap into this to help increase the chances of them making a reservation. Here’s how we do it:

  • Desire
    Why might your target audience book a room or dinner with you? Are they looking for a romantic break, friendly reunion, business getaway? If you can tap into your audience’s desires and adapt your website to suit, they will more readily identify that your place is suitable for them. It will make their decision-making process simpler and the option of staying with you their obvious choice.
  • Urgency / scarcity
    Adding a sense of urgency or scarcity could sky rocket your bookings, but it will only work effectively if you have implemented the full formula listed here.
    It’s a method employed successfully by Booking.com and will prevent visitors looking around at competitor’s websites for fear of losing out on your deal. The tactic also demonstrates popularity, which links back to social proof. There are several ways this can be done. The example below is taken from one of the best boutique hotels in the world found in Costa Rica. In the booking process it highlights when availability is limited.
    boutique hotel urgency
    Booking.com do the same and also use alerts telling you how many other people are currently looking at the same hotel and any recent bookings.

    booking-com urgency
  • Eliminate stress
    If any part of your website or reservation process causes your visitors to stress, it’s easy to see how it would impact on bookings. Here are 3 ways to remove stress from your website:
    • De-clutter remove any unnecessary elements, pages and content from the site
    • Make sure all visitors’ questions are answered in logical places on the site
    • Make the booking process as seamless and easy to use as possible

Step three – Technical

  • Well-integrated booking engine
    Most boutique hotels and top restaurants use a third party reservations system. Some can be configured to fit in with your website’s design better than others. It’s not surprising that the easier and more intuitive it is for a customer to use and the more seamlessly it fits in with the website, the higher the rate of bookings that can be achieved.
  • Mobile and tablet responsive
    If your website doesn’t adapt for smaller devices then you can pretty much kiss goodbye to any potential bookings from visitors browsing on mobiles or tablets. If it’s not responsive then it’s too fiddly to browse on, so they’ll place the booking with your competitor instead.
  • Website speed
    If your website takes ages to load, it’s very unlikely visitors will hang around to wait for it. They’ll go on your competitor’s speedy website and book with them instead.

It’s important to remember that after implementing the three step formula, you’ll need to keep an eye on the results and tweak your site every now and again to maximise it’s success. It’s just one part of a much larger process that can increase your bookings even further.

But the choice is simple, you can continue the costly, on-going, hard slog to bring more visitors to your site, or you can implement the simple 3-step formula to turn more of your current visitors into reservations. It will provide much greater return on investment and much less work overall.

We’ve made this even easier for you by putting together a checklist you can follow to help you correctly implement all of the steps so you can start increasing your reservations today.

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Download the checklist here

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