How often do you look at your website from a guest’s point of view? Does it have all the information they need? Does it instil people with the confidence to book their holiday now? It’s a fast-moving market, and changes in buyer behaviour move the goal posts constantly. In the past three years alone we have seen a marked increase in the number of people using their smartphones to book their holidays (5% of all bookings in 2014 increasing to 13% in 2017 for the year-to-date). And that’s just one small part of the booking process.
We survey guests that book their holidays through SuperControl booking pages, to get feedback about their online booking experience and to discover what they want from a holiday rental website. Here are the top three requests:
1. Guests want the option to book now
98% of guests surveyed found it easy to complete the online booking form, with one guest commenting:
“It’s one of the easiest online forms I have completed.”
One in three people said that if they couldn’t book online they would not enquire by phone or email. Only half of those that would telephone said they would leave a message on an answerphone if nobody picked up. And, half of those that would leave a message would continue to search for alternative accommodation in the meantime.
2. No hidden costs, be open and upfront
People don’t like surprises. If you charge extra to bring a dog, or for a cot or highchair, tell people that in the text on your website. They don’t want to go through the booking process and discover added costs in the booking summary. Likewise, if there’s an additional charge for paying by credit card, make sure people know this before entering their payment details.
3. Photos, lots of photos
Before they book, guests want reassurance that all of the rooms in your property are as nice as your leading photo, so show them every room and reception area. They want to see photos of outside as well, so make sure you include pictures of the surrounding views, garden or terrace if you have one. It’s also good practice to update them to reflect seasons and events throughout the year.
Another tip is to use the same photos on all of your listings (eg on your Facebook page, Booking.com and Airbnb, as well as your own website). This makes your property recognisable, which in turn reinforces authenticity, giving guests the confidence to book.
Other items which were mentioned by multiple guests, but didn’t make the top three were:
- Guests want to be able to pay by credit card or online.
- Include maps showing property location(s).
- You must provide more information about the property.
The best advice is to include everything potential guests need to know – don’t give them a reason to leave your website and look elsewhere…they might not come back.