It would be wonderful if every hotel, tour, or vacation package booking could happen instantly, with no human interaction. You could just sit back and let the guest bookings arrive as a notification on your computer. The reality is that so many trip planners need to contact you to ask a question or two first.
The trick is to offer the multiple “Contact Us” options to ensure compatibility with all browsers, tablets, and mobile devices. The last thing you want to have happen is for a hot booking lead (someone almost ready to “Book Now”) getting turned away by their frustration and inability to contact you.
Here are three proven ways to optimize your make-a-booking inquiry feature on your website. Give potential guests the confidence to “Book Now” by making it effortless to reach out to your reservations staff before and when they are ready to make a booking.
1. Click-to-Call Reservations Phone Number
Do your customers like to call to ask a question about an upcoming hotel stay, an advertised vacation package, or perhaps to inquire about tour dates? Your phone number (toll-free if possible but not as critical when most calling plans include loads of nationwide minutes) is surely always listed at the top and bottom of your website template as well as on your contact page.
In addition to simply listing your phone number, it can be made clickable too. A clickable phone number allows you to be reached not just by landline, but also mobile calling and VOIP (voice over IP, otherwise known as Internet telephony such as Skype or Google Hangouts). That is why you must list your tour desk or reservations phone number in text format in addition to mobile friendly contact (to ask a booking question) forms.
The latest mobile browsers will automatically recognize a phone number based on standard formats. It will turn your reservations number into a link that when clicked, will prompt the user to make an outbound call on their smart phone. You can also use Html tags to mark up your phone number into country code, area code, and local number for advanced control. Here are a couple of resources that can help:
- How to Add Clickable Phone Numbers for Smartphones in WordPress
- Click-to-Call buttons and VOIP solutions from Skype, Zingaya, and eVoice
Flashy website designs often use images and graphics to give the appearance of a colorful, interactive brochure. However when your phone number is embedded in a photo or image, it is never clickable and impossible to copy and paste elsewhere.
Listing your phone number as plain text offers multiple other ways for travelers to reach out (and book now). They can copy and paste the phone number into their cell phone’s calling app if it is not clickable. When Skype is installed or for users of Google Voice or similar browser extensions, a call can be placed internationally at extremely cheap per-minute rates. Calling over a desktop or laptop computer (without an actual phone) is also possible with various browser extensions and widgets. They make use of the built-in microphone and computer speakers or a headset for higher call quality.
2. Email Us A Tour Question by Fillable Web Form
You most certainly list your email address as a way for potential bookers to contact you. Most people can click on an email address to create a new message in popular email clients such as Microsoft Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, and AOL. However there are compatibility issues that you must be aware of to ensure that potential guests can email you in one click.
For example on older cell phones, the embedded email app may not be able to handle clicks on “email us” links from their limited mobile web browser. The other common issue is when a travel consumer is using a public PC like at an Internet Café or from the hotel lobby. On those types of computers there will be no default email software available. Even if there is an email app configured, it is not meant to be used by guest accounts nor does it offer privacy and security.
For this reason you must also offer a contact form for travel consumers and tour participants to submit a message by email. A contact us web form allows anyone to email your staff simply by filling out their name, email address, and message text. They offer the greatest level of compatibility since it works with any web browser and device and requires no special software.
Remember that your future customers may be browsing from a public Windows computer, borrowing a tablet from a family member, or using a less-than-the-latest-model cell phone. To maximize your booking conversions, make sure nothing is preventing them from emailing you a travel-related question.
3. Contact Us to Book Now Auto-Responders (Email and Voicemail)
You and your travel reservations staff cannot always be at their desks, especially if booking questions arrive from around the world. So an auto-responder is a required feature to say hello back immediately.
Your first goal is to make it super easy for people to get in touch by phone and email to talk about travel bookings. Your next step is to say that you received their message and they WILL receive a timely response. While you cannot answer every travel inquiry immediately, you can give a typical time frame. By exhibiting professionalism and confidence (as the top travel brands do), travel consumers will be more likely to await your timely response.
Auto-responders can be set up by your web host or email software vendor and is a commonly available feature. It won’t cost you anything to create a friendly “we’ll get back to you soon” message. Since you have no idea if a booking question is urgent and whether or not someone is ready to book now or later, be friendly and set realistic expectations.
Without an auto-responder confirming receipt of their message and giving an expected response time, many potential customers will decide not to wait. It is like standing at a bus stop that lacks a real-time arrival sign. Are you going to wait for the next bus, hoping it is arriving soon? Or will the uncertainly lead you to hail a taxi instead?
In the auto-responder email, include the following “Book Now” conversion elements:
- A greeting and thank you message for taking the time to get in touch.
- Tourism business details such as office hours and when you might be closed during weekends or holidays.
- Typical time to receive a personal response back to a booking inquiry.
- Other ways to get in touch such as via phone, social media, or direct staff email addresses.
- A reminder about your hotel or travel business and why someone should book now and book direct.
- Links back to your website to continue the travel research and booking process.
- A brochure attached as a PDF file if it can answer travel related questions or alternatively a link to your FAQ page.
- A suggestion to sign up for your travel email newsletter to be informed about upcoming specials.
You should also include an auto-responder message on your voicemail as well. Configure one voicemail greeting the plays during office hours when your staff is currently busy, setting the expectation for a prompt call back. When the office is closed for the night or weekend, play a greeting that tells callers when your office will reopen. The goal is to encourage callers to leave a message and not hang up so that you can start a booking conversation.
Next Actions: Contact Us Before Booking Tricks
Now is the time to check your website to optimize your booking leads contact us options. Verify that anyone almost ready to book now can get in touch quickly, easily, and with the greatest compatibility to ask a pre-booking question. Check all your email contact forms, that your phone number can be selected and clicked as a text link (especially on mobile), and that your staff responds to booking inquiries as promised.
Book Now conversion optimization involves these and other small tricks to convince web visitors to get in touch before booking. Since you can’t get everyone to click “Book Now” on their own without talking to your staff and asking questions first, make sure your contact methods are tested for all devices and scenarios.