As a tourism business, how do you track if the monthly investment (that’s hours of effort and hundreds of dollars) being thrown into your online marketing strategy actually provides a great return on investment?
Time and time again I get calls from small tourism operators asking for a new website but when I ask the dreaded question of “how many bookings does your online presence currently generate for you” not many are able to give me a precise figure. Which makes it harder for us as our priority is to help operators increase their online bookings.
What I have come up with over the past months is a simple yet effective way for travel and tourism businesses to ascertain how many bookings their online presence is currently generating and which channel works best. It is a little Word document that will give you a snapshot of your bookings per month. To download it just scroll to the bottom of this blog post!
Origin of online bookings
As a tourism business your online bookings would generally take place on 2 locations:
- Your own website
- Your online channels (such as wotif, booking.com etc)
Bookings taking place your own website
Depending on the quality and functionality of your webiste, your web visitors may have different ways to make a booking (or an enquiry). For the purpose of the exercise we will call them both “conversions”.
- Using the online booking button: did you know that many travellers now book their holiday on their smart phones and/or tablets? how mobile friendly is your website & your online booking system? in 2012 Google predicts that 8% of mobile users will be booking their travel from their mobile. Since 99% of of travellers have a mobile that would signify that this year 10% of your bookings could originate from mobile devices!
- Using the contact form:some people still are old school and prefer to use a contact form
- Clicking on your email address directly: if you believe you should’t list your email address on your website because of “spam” you are mistaken. Not listing your email address risks you losing communication from those that prefer this form of communication. Simply get yourself a decent email program and you will never be bothered by spam.
- Using the LiveChat functionality: for a demo of LiveChat just look at the bottom right of this blog post or visit this article to learn how to set it up.
- Picking up the phone and calling the phone number listed on your website: sometimes it is just nice to have a personal call (and pretty handy for those who spend a lot of time behind the wheel who only have time to organise their family life whilst commuting to and from work)
Let me tell you a litte story: one of our customers recently asked us to remove the LiveChat bubble from her website as she was never online and thought it was useless.
When you are offline the LiveChat just takes a message and emails it to you, just like a contact form does. I explained to her that removing the chat option removes one way of allowing her visitors to make contact and make a booking. She was adamant she didn’t want it so I did as I was told. Prior to removing it stats from LiveChat showed that it had generated 6 enquiries. That was twice the number of enquiries her business received via contact form. What a shame, this very business has probably lost over $2,000 worth of bookings by removing this method of communication. Word of advice: if you don’t have LiveChat, get it now!
Bookings taking place on third party sites
In our industry it is now common practice to be listed on key sites such as Wotif, Bookings.com, Stayz. Have you ever done the maths and assessed which site provide you with the highest number of bookings? Do they provide you with more bookings than your website? And why is it so? Is it because your website does not rank for your most profitable keywords on Google? If you were to spend the commission paid on each booking on an SEO strategy, would this be worthwhile?
Sites that provide a lot of booking to small accommodation busiensses: