Travelers are adventure seekers looking for satisfaction and pleasure. A lackluster website sends them on a journey to another travel site. And they may never return to yours. The road to the ultimate escape is strewn with shiny objects to entice travelers. How can you make your website the shiniest one in the crowd? Discover how a smart travel website design can help improve conversion rates, so nothing distracts your visitors from booking a trip.

Conversion Rates – Where Does the Travel Industry Stand?

Other than necessary business trips, travel is typically a recreational or luxury expense. Certain personal travel is considered essential, such as visiting relatives or attending a faraway wedding. The current financial situation in the country and the world play a role in the amount of money spent in the travel sector. With all that in mind, where does the travel industry stand when it comes to conversion rates?

Comparably speaking, it’s challenging to get people to take action at travel sites. The only sectors that rank lower are retail and e-commerce, and non-profit organizations. Just 5 percent of travel website visitors convert into paying customers, versus 10 percent in industries such as professional or financial services and media or publishing. Focus on developing a stellar website design that moves visitors down the funnel into booking a travel experience.

Fall Into the Funnel – Create an Irresistible Journey

Conversion funnels are complex and multi-tiered on travel sites. Each phase of the funnel must be optimized to keep users moving down the funnel and into conversion territory. Consistency, persistence, and calls to action help ensure site visitors fall into the funnel and keep going until they come to the inevitable moment of realization – they want to book a trip now. It takes ongoing optimization to help improve travel website conversion rates.

Use the homepage to make a fantastic first impression. Choose a simple, navigable, and intuitive design that makes travelers want to explore more. Add a robust search feature that enables anyone to gather more details about their travel dreams and expectations. Streamlined and targeted search results push people to the final phase of the funnel – the booking page. Get visitors to book immediately with personalized features, book it now discounts, and other compelling calls to action.

The Search is On – The Results Are Crucial

Any smart travel website design includes a robust site search feature. Speed and accuracy are crucial to maintaining the attention of fast-paced travel searchers. Include basic travel search parameters to help visitors find specific options based on location, date, price, and the number of travelers. Drop-down menus further refine searches to ensure site users find what they want. Encourage return visits by saving travelers’ past searches and booking history, so it’s easy for them to come back to the site and book a trip.

The appearance of the search results is equally important to ensure seamless site usability. The material should be well-organized, so you don’t create confusion and frustration that send visitors surfing away. Make sure to include call to action buttons to show the price or select a trip option. On each page, feature a search bar for users to modify their searches without leaving the current page. Site navigation should be simple to execute and fast for a smooth experience that keeps visitors on-site and looking for more. On the backend, include a sitemap for search engine optimization and total navigability.

Fast and Fantastic – Get Travelers Caught Up in the Action

Travel is a fast-paced industry, often fueled by desire and spontaneity. Make the website experience fast and fantastic to grab visitors’ attention. A travel website should load quickly, so visitors never have to wait for descriptions, images, video, and search results. Any lagging along the way causes visitors to lose interest in the site and find a competitor website that is easier to navigate.

Also, make travel information accessible on-the-go. Up to 85 percent of travelers book travel activities from mobile devices. Sites should be mobile-friendly to appeal to travelers who prefer to book trips from mobile devices. Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to determine if your travel site looks right to mobile users. Capturing this audience is a savvy way to boost conversion rates. And remember to cater to last-minute travelers by adding an express booking option to your site’s homepage.

Give Them What They Want – Then Give Them More

An interactive search bar encourages visitors to stay at the site and look around at a variety of possibilities. From choosing trips based on location and date to staying within a budget, include plenty of options to keep travelers engaged. Make sure each search result provides what the user wants. Then fearlessly offer additional opportunities to give them more – even if they didn’t realize they wanted it.

Online travel businesses have a myriad of opportunities to present add-ons and upsells. For example, do travelers want to extend their trip by a couple of days to get an incredible deal? Or would they be interested in extras, such as travel insurance, hotel upgrades, or spa treatments at a discounted price for booking online? Offering additional services can sweeten the deal to encourage more bookings, as well as increase the average value of each reservation.

Personalize the Journey – Customer Connection and Retention

A personalized approach makes it easier to connect with potential customers and retain existing ones. Each traveler creates his or her unique booking, based on their preferences. Some might expect Wi-fi while others are looking for on-site parking. Incorporate a personalization tool into your travel website design to remember a traveler’s search and booking habits. Relevant recommendations are made during their visit to encourage them to book a trip.

For travelers who have booked vacations in the past, it’s natural to offer recommendations based on their past choices. An example is presenting family-friendly travel opportunities to visitors who typically book family vacations. Besides having a search bar on each page, include a recommendation section for returning visitors. Adding customized options appeals to a traveler’s sense of adventure and inspires them to book another trip.

Travel is Personal – Prove It With Photos

Travel itself is a highly personal experience. Site visitors want to imagine themselves at exotic destinations, enjoying their favorite activities. Bring the reality to life through amazing imagery. Professional photos and video are a necessity to improve conversion rates at travel sites. Images earn 3 percent of all Google search clicks, showing they are a powerful way to harness the power of SEO and photos to lure travelers to your site.

Avoid using generic or stock images that are commonly viewed on the web. Always attempt to get firsthand images of the destination and all its amenities. Be innovative by using modern technology for a whole new perspective, such as aerial photography and video tours of the location. Include ALT tags on all the images to improve SEO. Searchers who find these attractive images will want to visit the site to see more.

Put Emotions in Motion – Then Get Them to Take Action

Do people really have a shorter attention span than goldfish? While this is a popular joke, it’s also a reality. The average human attention span is a mere 8 seconds. As the result of a digital lifestyle, people quickly lose concentration and are already seeking the next distraction. And your goal is to catch more fish rather than watching them swim away. Put emotions in motion at your travel site to engage visitors and get them to take action.

Keyword research and content development should focus on memorable travel experiences (MTEs) to elicit emotional responses – and bookings – from visitors. The seven experiential components of MTEs are:

  • Novelty and giving travelers something new and exciting to do
  • Meaningful opportunities to make connections with people, history, and culture
  • Hedonistic pleasures to enjoy along the way, such as fine dining and wine
  • Knowledge and appreciation of another state, country, and way of life
  • Refreshing and liberating experiences that differ entirely from the usual daily routine
  • Involvement with the culture, music, and other immersive opportunities at the     destination
  • Cultural awareness that encourages travelers to interact and learn from locals

The Heat of the Moment – Make Words Matter

Keyword research is a cornerstone to travel website success. All of your content, including social media posts, should be optimized to include common keywords used by travelers to find specific experiences. A smart travel website design includes optimized backend features, including title tags, metadata, and ALT tags. Use tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner to determine the traffic and competition for travel-related keywords. Incorporate them naturally into your content and backend optimization to attract search engines and real-life travelers.

Once you get them to the site, start warming visitors up with keyword-infused calls to action. Each page should offer unique opportunities, such as special discounts for booking today and alluring add-ons for a special price, such as room upgrades and meals. Hot offers get visitors to act in the heat of the moment and book their next trip because they don’t want to miss a sweet deal. Use language that conveys urgency and scarcity, so visitors want to act on-the-spot.

He Said, She Said – Reviews Matter to Travelers

Consumers visit an average of 38 sites before booking a trip. Some of these sites will be informational, others are competitors, and then there are review sites. Many travelers read reviews carefully to determine the experiences of others before they book their vacations. A series of negative review with little or no positive input often deters people from taking action.

While negative reviews are problematic, people accept it is inevitable for a travel destination to have some poor feedback. A travel site with no reviews makes people question its authenticity. Strive to deliver an outstanding customer experience and encourage people to share their favorite stories. Link to positive reviews on your website, so visitors can instantly find favorable accounts about potential travel opportunities.

It’s All About Trust – Be Authentic

A clean website design with plenty of white space has a professional feel. Avoid excessive content, imagery, and links. A travel site should instantly convey authenticity. Much like planning a road trip, people want specific directions. Everything should be at the user’s fingertips so they can dive into what your site offers. Check the spelling, grammar, and presentation of each page to eliminate unsightly errors that make a site look untrustworthy.

Encourage visitors to travel the pages of your site and include definitive calls to action every step of the way. Provide links to additional offers and opportunities keep them immersed in your content. Once they arrive at booking pages, offer information about the site’s security. Visitors need to feel confident about sharing their personal and financial information at the site to book a vacation. Verify the site’s security certificate is valid, updated, and accessible to users.

A smart travel website design can mean the difference between improving conversion rates and missed opportunities. Does it all sound like a lot to consider? If the journey seems winding and endless, we can help you create a map to success – and more bookings.

Galileo Tech Media helps travel industry leaders get noticed, convert, and build a loyal following. Let us show you how to harness the power of technology and persuasion to brand your business and boost your bottom line!