We all left a reservation for some reason. However, when your guide business relies on as many reservations as you can handle, it is important to know why your visitors to your website leave before you pay for an adventure with you.
What are abandoned reservations?
Abandoned reservations are when a customer does not complete the travel reservation process. They may have started choosing a date for their adventure or entered their details, but they left your website at some point. There can also be several reasons for this.
Why is it important to lower them?
The more reservations you have canceled, the fewer actual trips you make, which means the less money you make for your guide business. It is crucial to have an optimized booking process so that you can avoid abandoned reservations.
What are the reasons why people leave reservations?
According to Baymardfound the 10 most important reasons why people leave a reservation.
- Additional costs too high (shipping, tax, fees)
- The site wanted me to create an account
- Delivery was too slow
- I do not trust the page with my CC information
- Too long / complicated payment process
- I could not see / calculate the total order cost in advance
- The website had errors / went down
- The return policy was not satisfactory
- There were not enough payment methods
- CC was rejected
So how can operators minimize abandoned reservations? It starts with having transparent pricing and clear cancellation and refund policies. You will also want to optimize for your mobile and test your website experience. In addition, you need to attract attention to how unique your guide business is. The most important thing is that you want to simplify your booking process (which we can help with).
Clear pricing and cancellation and refund policies
Have you presented the total cost in advance
Have you ever experienced that you have looked through lists, seen the price, been okay with the said price, added it to your “cart”, and then at checkout the price almost doubles? This happens a lot with airlines or Airbnb. That’s shocking, right? Enough to make you want to throw your hands up and commit to going back to couch surfing and road tripping.
This is how your customers feel about surprise prices at the end when they are ready to book. Actually, Baymard conducted a survey on causes of under-the-box interruptions, and the main reason, by 48%, is that the extra costs were too high. We’ve seen ticketing systems pull this tactic on professional guidance sites, and it’s clear why operators are frustrated. When you expect one price and are presented with something completely different when you are ready to pay, it’s shocking and it breaks your customers’ trust. This is the main reason why the reservation is canceled (you can also avoid this by allows deposits).
Since we have personally experienced this for ourselves, we decided to have our prices calculated at the start. What your customers see when they start browsing available dates and times is the final price when they leave to book their adventure with you. There are no surprise fees or charges. No BS.
Clearly explain your cancellation and refund policies
In addition to clear prices to minimize canceled reservations, you want to clearly explain your cancellation and refund policies. You also need to make them accessible and easy to read. This not only gives customers peace of mind that in certain situations they can cancel and receive a refund, but it is also an advantage for you so that you avoid angry customers in the future. Outlining clear cancellation and refund policies prevents your business from losing money or handling erroneous communications.
Optimize for mobile
According to PhocusWire, 41% of travelers use their mobile devices to browse, but only 18% use them to book an adventure. This may be because it is more difficult to book a trip with a mobile phone due to the smaller screen and to be afraid of accidentally “greasing” a field. Plus, there are still plenty of professional guidance sites that are far behind in their site design. All this leads to interrupted reservations.
More, SaleCycles 2022 Travel Ecommerce Stats & Trends Report states, “55% of all online traffic is via mobile, but total online sales via mobile are only 44%.” In addition, they add “The overall interruption rate for mobile search via mobile is 85.27%.” This suggests that cell phones are used to search for adventures, less so to book them.
Keep your mobile visitors on your site
Prevent interruption of reservations by optimizing your website, especially your booking process, for mobile. This means that you use a theme or code that automatically adjusts your web components to a mobile phone (ie shrinking fields, forms, text, etc. to fit on a phone screen instead of a desktop).
Also to have one booking widget Embedded in your site, which is easy to complete on a phone, will pressure the mobile visitors to book their adventures with you instead of waiting until they are at their computers.
Test your website experience
If you have not personally been through your website for a while, then do so soon. Building websites is not an easy task. There are always ways to make your website experience better and avoid abandoned reservations (Psst … it starts with website design).
One way to find out if you need to improve is by asking your friends and family to review the booking process and help you jot down sticky points or confusing or complicated aspects that would make them stop. to book with you. Do not forget to get them tested via mobile and desktop.
Get notes from your testers
Have them note down any errors, slow loading times, too large or small buttons, intuitive booking flow, and any unnecessary fields. Use this to update your website experience and analyze what happens during the following months after implementing changes. If you see your reservations increase, keep these changes. If they start to drop, go back to the drawing board to see what else needs to be changed.
If you use Origin, we have an easy way to do this (just send us a message from your Dashboard!).
Attract attention to how unique your guide business is
There are many opportunities to go on adventures with a professional guide. If you do not believe us, visit Google and do a quick search. We think you’re great, but we’re not your target customer. It is easy to cancel a reservation when there is nothing special about the company and lots of other similar options. Furthermore, there will be no connection if there is no perception that your guide business is unique.
Why are you different from other guide companies?
So think about what makes your business unique? Why should travelers book with you over the others? Are these the adventures you take guests on? Your guides and staff? If you’re struggling to come up with something yourself, ask your guides, your employees and your previous customers. They want some ideas for you. Then highlight it with content like an “About Us” page, a blog about your guiding adventures, photos, videos, and testimonials.
55% of customers says reviews affect their buying decision. By showing reviews and opinions from previous customers, you can give customers the extra encouragement to complete their reservation.
Simplify the booking process to minimize interrupted reservations
To lower your reservation cancellation rate, please simplify your booking process. This is close and dear to our hearts because that is what we excel at. We hated the endless clicks it took to book an adventure. The longer and more complex your booking process is, the more likely it is that guests will jump from your website.
Difficult forms and fields make customers distracted and frustrated. Plus, they are more likely to be interrupted while completing all this nonsense. They will go to your competitor, which has a built-in booking widget that takes customers less than five minutes to book a trip with them.
Fewer clicks means a faster payment
Also, do not let customers click through a hundred screens to get to the payment page. A simple online booking process (like Origin’s) can be done on a single page, which helps reduce the number of canceled reservations.
Get the absolute minimum of information and then ask about the rest later
The average box has 15 form fields, twice as many as it takes to collect customer information than necessary to process. You do not need to know everyone (like their first and last name, their phone number and their email address) who will be in their private group during the initial payment.
This is especially important when all you really need is their name, credit card information and an email address to book a trip.
Do not force account creation
The second biggest reason to cancel a reservation is to force customers to create an account before they can pay. And today with the two-step verification process, texting codes for phones, and creating yet another unique password for the site, confuses your customers.
Encourage customers to create accounts after booking (Origin automatically creates accounts so customers can track their travels after paying) to help with future bookings and marketing.
Not all reservations made are due to you doing something wrong. Tripadvisor states that 80% of travel research takes 4+ weeks. So you get to see travelers jumping on your site while researching the best guides before making their decision. On the other hand, you do not want to lose out on those customers in the future when they are ready to buy. This is when it will be helpful to have a marketing strategy to gather visitors’ information to contact them in the future.
Checklist for the payment page
- Website design
- Is it modern? Mobile optimized? Clean?
- Travel photos and descriptions match the box photos and descriptions
- Inconsistent images and descriptions make customers hesitate
- Make sure that if it is a beginner mountain bike clinic, you are showing pictures from beginner mountain bike clinics, not pictures of motorcyclists sending it out of giant stones.
- Make sure the descriptions match so that there is no confusion
- Is your booking process easy?
- The fewest possible number of steps
- Select a date, select a time, and fill in the required information.
- Take out all unnecessary things
- Clean it, keep it minimal
- Are buttons (call-to-actions) limited in the booking process?
- And they stand out from everything else on the page
- Are gift options offered?
- Are they presented before entering billing information?
- Transparent and upfront
- Show total price as early as possible
- No hidden fees
- Avoid forcing account creation
- Do not get people to set up an account when they just want to book a trip with you. Worry about it when booking their adventure
- Flexible payment options?
- Do you offer more than one way to pay
- Cancellation and refund policies are available
- Easy to find, easy to read
- Checkout security is clearly visible
- SSL certificate in web URL
- Security label appears when you request payment information
- Are payment options ready?
- Guest vs account creation
- Can they create an account AFTER they have booked their trip
- Is there an orderly confirmation page that thanks and assures customers that their reservation went through?
- Is it clear what customers should expect after booking with you?