Most visitors to your travel website leave without booking – that much is a given. So how can you address the reasons that visitors close their browser and search for a hotel, tour or vacation package elsewhere? First you need to answer this one question… what pages on your site were the LAST ones that people viewed before leaving? Can’t answer it? Well your Google Analytics surely can!
Let’s learn about this simple but proven conversion optimization technique that is effective for travel and tourism websites too.
How Do Exit Pages Affect Booking Conversions
Every visitor to your travel website follows a path by navigating from page to page. They are learning about your business to determine whether or not to make a booking now, later or never. Perhaps they are searching for hotel amenities or available tour dates. They might be checking your room rates or proximity to a destination. Travel consumers want to make a booking decision as quickly as possible based on what they read on your website.
At some point whether within seconds or minutes, most of your prospects will decide to leave without clicking the “Book Now” button. Your task is to learn why they are leaving and optimize it. One critical piece of data is what is referred to as exit pages. Exit pages are simply the last page a visitors views before they close the browser tab or browse to a different website.
To improve your booking conversion rate, the key is to analyze this freely available data to look for behavioral patterns. Your goal is to uncover reasons why so many people leave your site from the top exit pages. What improvements can you make to address these booking abandonment reasons? What can you do to capture leads before they browse to your competition? Keep reading for the answers…
Analyzing Exit Page Traveler Data
The first thing to do is open your Google Analytics web dashboard and navigate to the “Exit Pages” area. Not already a customer of Google Analytics? You are missing out on the most important source of actionable website traffic data. Since it is free to track and analyze, go ahead and sign up today or talk to your web manager or IT professional to gain access.
My best recommendation is to examine the top 5 exit pages, viewed as hits and a percentage. To set up this view click the “Performance” button from the list of data view icons as shown.
Verify that the first column has “Exits” selected in the dropdown list at the top and lists the number of visitors that exited your site from each page. The second column should be displaying “Exits” as a percentage of all tracked exits. The default sort order shows the top exit pages for your entire website domain.
Make sure to select a reasonable time period at the top to view data for the previous week or month depending upon your traffic patterns.
Inspect the top 5 exit pages for your travel site one by one. Ask yourself what is the reason that visitors often decide to browse away at this stage without making a booking. As you can see in the above example, the #1 exit page accounts for over 64% of all exits from this website. In number terms, 2,705 visitors in one month reached this specific page and then decided to leave your website. Think how many of these warm leads you could have converted to “Book Now” or at least asked for their email address before departing?
The next two steps tell you how to lower your exit totals and remarket to leads in order to increase your booking conversions now and later.
How to Reduce Exit Pages on Booking Sites
The next step is to figure out why so many visitors leave your site upon reaching your top 5 exit pages. As every hotel or tour business is different, there is no one magic solution. Here are some common ways that you can identity the reasons for booking abandonment.
- Spell-check and grammar check the page to make sure there are no sloppy mistakes.
- Refresh any old content, especially content that is dated more than a few months ago.
- Test all links and buttons on the page to make sure none are broken or missing.
- Ensure there is a “Book Now”, “Book A Tour” or “Make A Reservation” type call-to-action button on each page.
- Add contextual information to address the most common questions you receive by phone and email.
- View the exit pages in a variety of browsers and devices to check for incompatibility problems.
- Verify consistency and accuracy between pages and against your OTA and online listings.
In general, your task is to make improvements to exit pages that will encourage visitors to keep browsing. Think about how you can produce more content, better content and a more effective call-to-action on the top booking exit pages.
Dig deeper into Google Analytics if you feel comfortable to see what else you can learn about the path visitors take to reach your most common exit pages. For advanced views, add in secondary dimensions for such as comparing organic versus paid search traffic and grouping statistics by country or mobile device.
Now when you are fully optimized and cannot reduce your exit page hits any further, look to capture prospects and turn them into leads. Read on to find out how to remarket to people that are done browsing your site, but not ready to book immediately.
How to Capture Booking Leads on Exit Pages
There is only so much you can do to force visitors to stay on your site and complete a booking. The visitors you are most interested in are the ones that are happy so far, but not ready to book right away. They need time to review other options, talk it over with family or friends, consult their budget, verify travel dates, or simply want to think it over first.
This leads to your second chance opportunity to get more bookings. Since clicking the “Book Now” button is out of the question, add an email newsletter sign-up button to your top exit pages. This is an easier to agree to call-to-action than the “Book Now” commitment button, especially at an early booking stage. It costs nothing and is the fastest way for your visitors to “bookmark” your site.
Examples of Email Newsletter Sign-Up Forms (embedded) for Hotels and Tour Operators
People that like your place to stay or travel and tour packages are warmed up before exiting. Therefore the most appropriate first goal is to capture their email address. An email newsletter lets you continue the booking conversion where they left off. When an email newsletter subscriber receives your email message, it is a friendly reminder to return and consider booking travel later.
Next Actions – Travel Industry Remarketing Via Exit Pages
Now that you know how to increase your booking conversion rate using exit page remarketing, your next actions are simple as 1-2-3.
- Access your Google Analytics Report on Exit Pages.
- Make travel content improvements to your top exit pages.
- Capture leads before they exit for remarketing via an email newsletter.
For additional resources, refer to the following articles on hotel, tour and travel lead capture and email remarketing.
Reviews of Email Newsletter Providers for Travel Marketers (BookingCounts.com)
Sign up for a free trial with our top recommended email newsletter provider: GetResponse.
Learn about other ways to remarket to travelers that are not ready to book now:
- 3 Free Ways to Capture Leads on Your Hotel, B&B, or Guest House Website (BookingCounts.com)
- Second Chance Conversion with Travel Remarketing (SocialHospitality.com)