Your website can be a powerful tool, if you know how to effectively increase your bookings. A well-designed site can help you build authority and credibility as a tour and activity operator. Your website also serves as a powerful sales tool where you can showcase your tours and activities while encouraging visitors to get in touch with you for a reservation. But, how a customer perceives your website will dictate conversion rates—the number of bookings you receive after a customer interacts with your company online.
Everything from the photos you choose to how you describe your offerings will determine whether or not a site visitor chooses to book with your company. With that in mind, here are some best practices for increasing bookings on your website.
1. Place Your "Book It" Button Above the Fold
When using an online booking system, your "Book It" button is your call to action (CTA), leading visitors directly to the reservations page. Making sure this button is visible on key landing pages on your website is critical for driving traffic through to the checkout process. But where exactly should this button be placed?
The experts at Shopify recommend placing the button "above the fold"—in a space where the visitor doesn't have to scroll down to see it. Since you are presenting and promoting tours and activities, you can place your button below the description box, underneath a photo and corresponding description, or even under the name of the tour or activity for an immediate booking.
Vertiport Chicago, a company that offers helicopter tours around the Windy City, places a large blue "Book Now" button on the right side of the home page underneath the tour description. There is also a "Click here to book online now" button hovering over the top header of the page. These button placements catch the reader's eye and make it easy for anyone ready to book the tour make their reservation.
And, don't overlook the CTA on any blog posts you publish. You can embed a "Book It" button at the bottom of a post about certain tours or activities, or simply link right over to the checkout page with a hyperlink on any mentions of the tour or activity within the blog post.
2. Choose the Right Words and Colors for Your CTA
It's not just where you place the call to action, it's also how you word that call to action and what colors you use. According to interface designer Paul Olyslager, your CTA button must have four important elements to generate high conversion rates: proper placement, the right shape and size, the right message, and the right color. In a post about best words to use in a CTA, Wishpond recommends the words "now" and "today" to create a sense of urgency. Consider alternative command phrases, such as "Book Online", "Make a Reservation", or "Book Now!" to prompt the customer to proceed with the reservation.
Untouchable Tours, Chicago's Original Gangster Tour, has a large "Book 'Em" button on the home page and clear text prompting visitors to make a reservation. Clicking on this button leads the customer to the online booking calendar where they can choose a date that fits their schedule and are then taken over to a secure checkout page.
Don't overlook the benefits of color choice, either. The psychology of color comes into play when designing a website and also when selecting your CTA button. Even though the perception of color can be subjective, certain colors evoke certain feelings and moods. Still, there is no universal color that will attract the visitor on any given website. The experts at Unbounce recommend choosing a color that stands out from the rest of the page.
You can use this guide from Kissmetrics that reveals how different colors affect purchases — it turns out orange is aggressive and especially effective for getting a visitor to subscribe, buy, or sell something while red creates a sense of urgency and is often perceived as a sale or clearance purchase.
3. Create a Dedicated Page for Tour and Activity Descriptions
Aside from your home page, "About Us" page, and "Contact Us" page, having a separate page detailed descriptions of your tours and activities can make it simple for the guest to find the information they're looking for. Writing engaging and descriptive tour and activity summaries is a necessary first step; you need to create a scene in the reader's mind by walking them through the experience. You also want to use visuals to your advantage—embed short video clips as a teaser of the tour or activity and include high-quality photos or a complete photo gallery to keep visitors engaged. Rainforest Expeditions, a company that offers Amazon rainforest tours, features detailed activity descriptions with comprehensive photo galleries to give guests a clear idea of what they can expect.
4. Implement Online Booking Features
The experts at Carlson Wagonlit point out how online booking tools offer numerous benefits to small business owners, including lower transaction costs and improving efficiency as the guest goes through the booking process. Instead of having to call your business to make and confirm a reservation, everything can be coordinated online. The guest would be led to a secure checkout page to process the transaction and will have the chance to make additional purchases with add-on options, such as upgrades, discounted packages, or gear and souvenirs.
Another advantage of offering online bookings: making your reservations calendar public. Using an online booking software program, such as ZOZI Advance, makes it easy to post a real-time calendar that gets updated based on online reservations made through the system. This way, customers can see exactly what dates and times are available for that kayak excursion, sailing tour, ghost tour, or other activities you offer in real-time and make their travel plans accordingly.
5. Invest in a Professional Photo Shoot
High-quality photos will help you exude a professional online presence, while also keeping site visitors interested in learning more about your offerings. Therefore, the majority of the photos on your website and marketing materials should be professional quality. The National Federation of Independent Businesses points out that pictures snapped by a professional photographer can turn browsers into customers and also provide free publicity and exposure when those photos get shared.
Kayak Tours on Lake Powell has a beautiful website with high-resolution images that capture the essence of its tour offerings.
Whether you set up a shoot where the photographer is taking pictures of kayakers on the water, a rainforest excursion in action, or breathtaking photos of the landscape from the perspective of a sailboat tour, these images will be a valuable addition to your website.
6. Broadcast a Variety of Trust Signals
Images of awards you've won, logos of affiliations and organizations you are partnered with, and high star-ratings and testimonials listed on your website are all forms of trust signals—indicators of professionalism and trustworthiness in the eyes of the average site visitor. In a post about the elements of great landing pages, the experts at WordStream point out how important it is to make these trust signals visible on landing pages because they help to "reassure visitors so they can convert with confidence."
Do what you can to round up logos, images, and captions of positive reviews to promote them on your website. This might include 5-star review ratings, quotes or mentions about your business in the local press, and any logos or images of awards you have received. These can be placed on your home page as well as on your tour and activity description landing pages. Island Vibes Tours features logos and images of its awards on the left side of its home page and also lists links to articles written about its company at the bottom of its page, along with a listing of awards.
7. Make It Easy for Customers to Contact You
Does the average site visitor have to dig around to find your phone number or online contact form, or is your contact information in a highly visible spot on every page? Even though you may have a prominent "Book It" button placed on your page, some customers may want to contact you to ask questions about your tours and activities, or to make a reservation over the phone. According to The 2012 Traveler report by Google and Ipsos MediaCT, 32 percent of leisure travelers and 45 percent of business travelers requested more information about an upcoming trip.
With that in mind, make sure it's easy for these customers to contact you by displaying your phone number, email address, and a direct link to your "Contact Us" page on every single page in a visible location—either around the header, in the sidebar, or as its own standalone button on the page.
From showcasing your offerings with stunning visuals and video clips to offering online booking options, there are several ways tour and activity operators can increase bookings directly through their website. Use these tips and strategies to convert more visitors into customers season after season.