Your "Book Now" button is just waiting to be clicked! So what can you do to create a sense of booking urgency? When people purchase airline tickets and especially tickets to an event, they are well aware that seats are limited. No one wants to make a decision to buy or book now and be shown a "Sold Out" sign. By creating the same sense of urgency on your guest house, hotel or tour website, you can encourage more people to click the book now button. Travel consumers will be more likely to book travel to avoid disappointment.
It is likely that you have run across this conversion optimization technique not just on travel websites but on any site where one purchases products or buy tickets. The online travel agencies (OTAs) have embraced the notion of urgency to grow their market share (sometimes at your expense).
When a travel consumer searches for a date and destination, the advanced OTA booking engines pull in live availability data. An urgency message gets inserted for one or more the following booking inventory criteria:
Hotel marketers know they are more likely to be fully booked during holidays, seasonally, and when special events are happening in their area. Use this to your advantage by reminding visitors that rooms are booking fast for those "in demand" dates.
To use this hotel conversion optimization technique, add a sense-of-urgency box on your room rates and booking pages. This box will list the range of dates where you rooms are less available and likely to book up soon. Go over your past few years of room reservation history to find out when you were more than 75 or 80% booked (or whatever number works for your travel industry sector and target market).
Publish these "booking up quickly" date ranges to inform website visitors that if they wait to book later, rooms may not be available. Even when travelers are looking at different accommodation dates, this urgency notice serve as a reminder that your hotel is always at risk for selling out.
Do you raise hotel rates as available rooms become scarce? If so mention that rates may go up soon during these busy periods. Tell visitors to your site that the smart decision is to book now to lock in the current hotel rates and guarantee their room reservation. It is better to be sold out early than risk having to lower rates at the last minute. Mention your cancellation policy to overcome the fear of booking a major and expensive trip.
I assume you prefer direct bookings over commission-based OTA bookings, right? This book now conversion tactic will encourage more direct bookings too. Obviously it is easier to get a direct booking when a visitor is on your site and is considering booking now or later. Even if they eventually decide to book later (hoping you still have availability), they may end up on an OTA site since that is the more familiar place to book rooms.
Motivating more people to click the "Book Now" button is a technique that can be used by any guest house, hotel, B&B, tour operator, or vacation package business. Don't worry if you do not have the IT staff or expertise to automate the display of booking urgency labels. On a weekly basis you can manually edit your website to include a pre-configured urgency message next to every tour that is quickly booking up. For hotels and B&Bs this only requires that you update your rooms available urgency box (see above) whenever there are significant changes to your live booking data.
Either way, don't delay adding in a sense of urgency to get more people to book now to avoid disappointment. I certainly would be disappointed if I wanted to book a room or a tour but waited too long. Do your travel leads a favor by getting them to book a vacation instead of taking a wait and see attitude. Use urgency prompts to increase your booking conversion rate and become fully booked early and often.
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