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Sales Conversion Online – How to win the numbers game

For the last two weeks, we have looked at how to convert better when those precious calls come into your hotel.  But how do you measure the conversions online and what are the first steps you can make to increase those numbers and therefore your bottom line?

Let’s look at an everyday scenario:

Step 1 is to analyse the average current number of visitors you have to your site every day and for ease of use lets use simple metrics.

  • I have an average of 1000 visitors each day to my site
  • On average 20% will proceed to check availability or have the potential to purchase.  This percentage will change depending on the type of hotel you have.  So for example, if you have a resort type property, by its very nature will attract more people just browsing around your site.  Customers will perhaps look at your location / your bedroom details / images / perhaps information on dining or spa.  These customers will come back to your site multiple times before and after booking so although 20% seems quite low, it could actually be quite a high percentage if you have a luxury or resort type hotel.  City hotels however, tend to attract customers who already know what they want.  Many customers are repeat – perhaps corporates who stay with you several times each month, so they tend not to navigate around your site quite so much and go straight into the booking process.  Your average percentage of browsers moving to the booking process may therefore be higher, although your average number of visitors each day may be lower.
  • From that 20% (or 200) customers who proceed to check availability around 4% will actually make a booking. The industry average is around 3.5% to 4% currently.  Again this percentage may seem quite low but if you look at your own buying habits online, you will potentially have a look when you have an ‘idea’ that you may travel – the dreaming stage.  During this stage you are literally imagining when and where you might travel to.  You are not in a buying position, you are actually just at the very start of your decision process. Then you may move into the ‘planning and discovery cycle’ when you come back to a website to look at prices, check availability for more definite dates and consider what your options may be. Then finally you will move into a ‘buying cycle’ but to get there you may have gone far enough into a website to be counted multiple times over multiple days – hence the low percentage.
  • The 4% then equates to 8 bookings i.e. 4% of 200. Now say you have an average booking value of £120.00 per booking, this will then result in your bottomline each day having an average conversion of £960.00 and will equate to 0.8% conversion from your total of 1000 visitors.

So why does this all matter?  Well it does and you should be using these metrics which your booking engine provider or Google Analytics provide for you to target your sales or marketing teams. What if you targeted your teams to convert an average of 4.5% of visitors from 1200 visitors each day with an average of 22% of people moving to the booking process?

1200 visitors @ 22% = 264

264 @ 4.5% = 11.88

11.88 @ £120.00 = £1425

A difference of £465.00 each day! For small incremental growth through each part of the cycle, you could increase conversion by almost 50%

So how do you increase each link in the chain?

  1. Bring more visitors to your site with a concerted online and offline campaign.  Can you afford a Pay per Click (PPC) campaign?  If so, what would your budget need to be? A PPC campaign can be managed either by yourself or a specialist company.  It would enable you to appear high on Google rankings and hopefully above the Online Travel Agents such as Booking.com, but it does come at a price and that price is often too high for many, so you will need to make a judgement call. But consider other options like e:shots to past guests to bring them back into that booking process / Facebook campaigns that actually cost very little and can hit your target market / Facebook Ads / Ads on YouTube (you know those ads you see which you have to watch for 15 seconds before you get access to the video you really want to watch) – they are reasonably inexpensive and can have a great return / Re-marketing ads for people who have visited your site and then browse other sites / A ‘don’t leave us’ message on your own booking process that will help negate ‘basket abandonment’ – There are lots of ways to increase overall visitors and if you get people into the start of the chain, you have more chance of them moving through the chain
  2. Then how do you get these browsers into the buying cycle?  Seems obvious I know, but make sure you have a strong ‘call to action’ i.e. Check Availability / Book Now message on your site.  Make sure the date checker is prominent and available on every page.  Make sure you have strong ‘reasons to book direct’ so that customers feel that they don’t have to shop around.  Make your special offers are easy to access. Don’t over complicate search terms and for goodness sake don’t make customers have to think before making a booking.
  3. Then make sure you have plenty of availability online.  Again obvious but make sure you have the best availability on your own site and make sure guests can book multiple nights for the same room if they want to.
  4. Make sure you have the very best rates online and make sure you consider the order your rates are placed in.  This sounds ridiculous but it makes a huge difference to conversion
  5. Make the booking process simple, straightforward and secure

More next week but for now I hope that helps and remember, for all things revenue just ask@rightrevenue.wpengine.com