In the past, making a travel booking meant phoning up a travel agent or popping into their office. The agent would lay out the options and process all the reservations on behalf of the traveler, who would then walk out with their itinerary or wait for an email to follow.
Today, many travelers want to handle their own bookings. Because of technology and the internet, they now have the tools to research, plan, and secure reservations.
You can also bet that they expect the travel booking process to be fast, secure, and simple to use. Any friction in the experience and they'll be walking out the metaphorical door empty-handed and heading over to your competitors' website.
Winning them over means that you need to offer the best possible travel booking experience.
Just recently we covered tips on how to optimize your booking pages to convert customers. We also took a look at finding the right balance with OTAs and encouraging more direct bookings. In this post, we’ll focus on how to drive conversions with a direct online booking process and easy check-out.
Getting this right means that prospects will know exactly what steps to take when they’re on your booking page, as well as feel secure about submitting their payment information.
Receiving a confirmation after completing the booking steps is the final step to validate the process and provide a summary of their reservation information.
Key Features That Drive Conversions In The Travel Booking Process
First, let’s take a look at the ideal booking flow process, as this guides the sections we touch on below.
- Clients should be able to easily find the information they need on your booking page
- They should be able to choose and select package items as they need
- If they need to change or add to their booking, this should happen seamlessly
- Space to input their relevant personal details
- See a summarized booking with selected items and total price
- Securely pay in a currency of their choice with several payment options
- Receive an instant confirmation with all the relevant details
If you’re a WeTravel client, then this process is automatically added to your booking page and check out.
If at any point this process becomes too overwhelming for the client, or if there’s something they’re unsure of, it could lead to them abandoning the process.
Ideally, you want to prevent this from happening altogether. Or, if it does, then you should re-engage them quickly so that you don’t lose their interest.
Now let’s look at the main sections in more detail.
Trip Page and Book Now Button
The trip page gives customers an overview of the trip they’re interested in buying into and allows them to make basic package selections.
There’s also a Book Now button or reservation box so that people can start the booking process themselves.
Without it, clients have to contact you to make a reservation. This may drive them to leave the page and not come back. It’s all about instant gratification.
With WeTravel, tour operators have several options to create a self-service travel booking process for your clients. Everything is customizable and you can:
- Create a booking page with an embedded checkout and generate a direct link
- Embed a Book Now button on your website
- Embed your trip on your website
All of these options allow your clients to make their own reservations. There’s no need for them to contact you to complete the process.
Reservation forms in the travel booking process provide you with the information you need about the traveler. It also reassures them that you will be able to identify their reservation.
Friction at this point can negatively impact on conversions.
Although travel booking forms typically need to collect more information than your average online payment form, it’s still possible to optimize them and minimize abandonment through careful design.
Using WeTravel, you can choose what details to collect from travelers and create custom fields.
To make the forms more user-friendly when customers are booking:
- Provide visual appeal to liven up the form
- Keep forms as short as possible and only collect necessary information
- Constantly display the package selected and total cost
- Provide inline validation on the form, so that customers know right away when there’s a mistake
- WeTravel provides simple form progress indicators to show clients how far they are in the process and what’s left to complete
Real-Time Payment Processing
Submitting a payment is part of order fulfillment for travelers. When they pay a deposit in real-time, the reservation is confirmed and it becomes official that they have secured their spot on the trip.
This step must flow on from the previous one, as a break in the process may leave customers wondering why this happened.
They can lose trust in the experience if they’re directed away. They no longer know whether they’re paying the right person, or if perhaps the system has been hacked and someone is trying to steal their money.
Some of the best practices for this part of the travel booking process is to:
- Display that transactions are secure and encrypted
- Offer several payment options including bank transfer and debit/credit card
- Continue to show the details of the package and total cost
- Link to Terms and Conditions, as well as cancellation policies
- State that customers agree to the above upon clicking confirm, or provide an inline box that needs to be checked
Sending a confirmation is the final step in the process and completes the travel booking experience.
Using WeTravel, a confirmation email will automatically be sent to the person after completing their booking.
It provides them with a summary of the reservation they have made and can include a welcome message. You can also add in details of optional extras that you are selling, such as travel insurance, and provide a CTA to manage their booking.
All in all, this helps to validate the booking for your clients and reassure them that you have their information and deposit.
It’s a good idea to let them know what’s next, i.e, when will you be in contact again, or what can they expect in the time leading up to their trip. It’s your opportunity to start the relationship off on the right foot.
The travel booking process is the pinnacle of your sales and marketing efforts. If you've spent the time nurturing clients through the sales funnel, the last thing you want to happen is for them to abandon their purchase due to a poor booking and check out experience.
As a WeTravel client, our booking and payment solutions platform offers the perfect customer journey and gives your clients a seamless way to complete their reservations.
If you’d like to watch WeTravel in action, then check out the short video below.