Tourism Website Hierarchy of Needs™ – A Framework for Tourism Marketing
The BookingCounts pyramid was inspired by Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs which aims to describe the essence of human behavior from the basic needs of food and shelter to higher psychological needs such as belonging and esteem. The theory states that we are all motivated by one need (slice of the pyramid) at a time from bottom to top. We as individuals must satisfy the current need fully before we are able to progress up the pyramid. For example, people don’t worry a lot about feeling a sense of achievement when they have not met their need for health.
Motivation to purchase (book) travel online works in a surprisingly similar way. When a visitor first reaches your tourism website, they certainly are not likely to click the “Book Now” button and enter their credit card details (though it would be nice). That would imply an upside-down pyramid. No, their first priority is to determine if your site represents a reputable member of the tourism industry. Therefore the concept of Reputation is at the base of the BookingCounts Tourism Website Hierarchy of Needs pyramid.
Reputable Tourism Business
How do you make your website appear to represent a reputable tourism business? Think about what a visitor desires to meet this most basic need. When someone planning a trip reaches your home page, a landing page, or goes directly to a tour offering page, their first instinct is to consider the look and feel of the website and try to answer “Yes” to all these questions.
- Does the website look professional?
- Is it compatible with my browser or mobile device?
- After 10 seconds (some say 5), do I understand what this tourism business does?
- Do the “About Us” and “Contact Us” pages convince me this is an established travel company?
All of these factors (and more) are at the heart of showcasing your tourism company as reputable. By meeting the needs of every visitor from the moment they reach your website, you make it likely that they will be motivated to move up to the next level of the Tourism Website Hierarchy.
Trustworthy Travel Products
Once a visitor is convinced that you are a real and established tourism company and satisfies that requirement, they begin to examine what it is that you are selling. Their goal is to quickly figure out if you offer the type of travel products and services they are searching for or would otherwise meet their travel goals. At the same time every visitor must gain confidence in your ability to deliver those advertised travel experiences. This is what it means to promote your tourism site as one you can Trust.
When someone planning a trip browses your site to learn about your products, they examine the site layout and scan the content to try to answer “Yes” to these questions.
- Are the pages listing availability, pricing, and events up to date?
- Based on the quality of the content, do I have confidence this is a trustworthy travel provider?
- Is there enough detail so I can find the answer to most of my questions without calling or emailing?
- Can I trust that this company has delivered the described travel experiences to customers in the past?
Safe & Secure Booking
Finally, only after a visitor is convinced that your tourism business is reputable and trusts that you can deliver what you offer do they ponder whether or not to make a booking. Now I can only help you build an optimized booking website so that you can satisfy more visitors and get more bookings. Regardless of whether you run a place to stay, local tour, tourist attraction, or annual festival, it is up to you to offer travel products for sale that are in demand by your target market in whatever niche you operate.
However once a prospect is about to become a customer by clicking the “Book Now” button, their needs for safety and secure before, during, and after the booking process is the highest priority. Security is at the top of the Tourism Website Hierarchy of Needs and while it comes last, it is just as critical as meeting the previous needs.
To satisfy the needs of someone that is ready to book travel, whether it is on your website, a third party booking engine, or via an online travel agency, you must prove that the booking process is safe from start to finish. People planning a trip online will once again examine your website as well as your booking site (if separate), and try to answer “Yes” to these questions.
- Do you have reasonable privacy and security policies clearly posted?
- Is there full disclosure about issues related to booking, payment, cancellation, and guarantees?
- Will I be able to get in touch with your customer service staff if I need help?
- Does the booking transaction use proper security measures to protect my sensitive information?
The Tourism Website Hierachy of Needs™ framework is a smart approach to tourism marketing. You must always understand how visitors evaluate your tourism website to decide whether to make a booking or click the back button and go elsewhere. I encourage you to refer to this diagram as you plan improvements to your travel and booking website so that you can meet the needs of visitors planning their next vacation or business trip online. By focusing in order on Reputation, Trust, and Security, you are more likely to satisfy the needs of every traveler who browses your website and motivate them up the pyramid so they ultimately make a booking.