Increase Inquiries On Vacation Rental Websites
In a previous article, I shared 10 top conversion tips that beef up bookings for vacation rental websites. Conversion is the key to getting the most out of your ad spend. You’re likely spending money on advertising your vacation rental business.
You’re hopefully sending people to your vacation rental website but what if people visit your site, then leave without sending you an inquiry or booking. A failure to take an action on your website equates to lost money, right?
Unfortunately, few companies try to understand what influences users to take an action. Research by Eisenberg Holdings sheds light on the matter. Their data shows that for every $120 the average company spends attracting customers, a mere $1.30 is spent converting them.
Our goal as business owners should be to maximize the return on our marketing budgets, but if your website isn’t optimized for conversion, you’re sadly flushing much of your marketing dollars down the commode.
That’s a big problem that often goes unnoticed. Have you ever thought to yourself ‘why aren’t more people contacting us through our website?’
If so, we’ve got several solutions to your website conversion challenges. Check them out and share your thoughts!
1. The Inquiry Arrow –
The inquiry arrow is a simple technique that can be applied to your website conversion strategy with very little work and cost.
This method is highly effective in getting more visitors to take the action of contacting you.
When people are on your website they need direction. Using an arrow next to a call to action makes your lead form more prominent and prompts visitors with the next obvious step they should take. This technique is called “visual cueing.”
2. Fewer Form Fields –
In part 1 of our website conversion series, I shared information to help demonstrate that forms are paramount to converting visitors into leads. I also uncovered for you where the best locations are to place your lead forms to maximize your results.
Statistic: The average number of form fields is 11. The conversion rate of a form with 11 fields is about 17% according to research by Formstack.
That doesn’t sound too bad, BUT if you reduce the number of form fields from 11 to 4 it can result in a 120% increase in conversions -WHOA! If you can manage to reduce your form fields to just three, you’ll further increase conversions.
However, there are times when a long form does make sense, use your common sense here. The rule of thumb is – in most cases, the fewer the number of fields the better. Aim to make it easier for guests to connect with you by reducing the required fields. Only ask visitors what you need from them at that moment.
The goal for me is to get their contact details with the most critical information. I then follow-up to learn more about their needs.
3. Use Reviews But Where?
By now you probably know how crucial reviews are to guests who are looking to book a vacation rental, but are you considering where’s the best placement of your reviews on your site?
Like many of the components we’re discussing today, placement is a huge factor that’ll determine their effectiveness!
Reviews, at their core, are a form of social proof. They make it easier for new customers to follow the lead of previous ones. They help to lower the resistance, build trust and encourage travelers to feel positive about your brand. As a result, they make it easier for travelers to take the next step with you.
Take advantage of that by placing your reviews next to your inquiry forms. This strategy will lead more travelers to feel comfortable with making an inquiry. When designing a vacation rental website I place reviews right on the homepage close to the inquiry form. Try it for yourself! It works!
4. Website Speed –
Even just a 1-second delay in page load time can result in a 7% reduction in conversions- OUCH! Radware unveiled the results of their research which revealed 51% of Internet shoppers in the United States would not complete a purchase if a website took a long time to load.
If you want to increase inquiries, you’ve gotta increase the speed of your website! Remember, no one wants to wait! A slow vacation rental website will frustrate prospective customers and destroy your conversion rate!
Wanna see how your website speed stacks up, check out an article I wrote. How to quickly test your rental website speed for free.
5. Expert Endorsements –
If you can get an expert to endorse your vacation rental, you’re pretty much guaranteed to see a spike in your conversions. An expert endorsement can come in many forms. A few obvious examples might be a 5-star rating from a public figure, travel blogger or industry expert.
While obtaining an endorsement from an authority figure might be a bit difficult, you can achieve similar results by getting an article featured in a top travel magazine like Travel Weekly, which is much easier to do. Reach out to a few bloggers, journalists, and other publishers to offer them a contribution in the form of a high-quality travel article for free.
Once successful, place the name of the publisher on your website. It might look something like this.
Endorsements can be obtained by either earning them or paying for them. An example of an earned endorsement is a TripAdvisor badge. TripAdvisor offers various badges for its advertisers who are rated as top performers in a certain area.
You can also choose to pay for an endorsement by using a verification service. This is especially helpful for new businesses and for those who are looking to drive in more direct bookings through their websites. Having a third party industry professional verify your property will let travelers know, you can be trusted (there’s that word again).
AVROA offers a unique vacation rental certification service. They’ll verify the authenticity of your vacation rental, giving travelers the peace of mind they need to book your property. Travelers will feel a sense of peace, knowing your vacation rental is legitimate. Learn more about AVROA certification process here.
The BBB and the Chamber of Commerce are very well known for the services they provide for business owners and consumers. They can also help to speak of your vacation rental business’s legitimacy.
I recommend using both paid and earned endorsements. The mixture provides even more credibility for your VR business. Place these badges on your website and watch how your conversion from visitor to inquiry increases.
6. Secured Website –
An unsecured website will definitely kill your conversion rate! Big Corona says, 84% of customers will not make a purchase if a website is not secure.
Google has made a big push to make the internet more secure. They began calling out websites that are not encrypted. If your website is secure visitors will see a green lock symbol with the word “Secured” in the URL of secured websites.
Previously, if your site wasn’t secured Google Chrome displayed a small “i” icon like the one in the image above in the URL.
If a user were to click the icon, it displayed a warning like this – ” Your connection to this site is not secure. You should not enter any sensitive information on this site (for example, passwords or credit cards), because it could be stolen by attackers.”
That’s a pretty scary thing for visitors to read when they’re on your site. Your trust – just went bust! Trust is at the heart of conversions, without it, you’ll go nowhere!
Google thought that a mere clickable icon wasn’t clear enough to visitors that a site wasn’t secure, so just a few months back they began showing the words “Not Secure” in the URL of sites that aren’t encrypted.
That message will instantly spook travelers and that’s exactly what Google intended to do in order to get site owners to comply. By securing your vacation rental website, it will also help your SEO rankings on Google. So, if you haven’t already done so, get your site secure with an SSL certificate ASAP!
7. Guarantee –
Did you know adding a 100% Money Back Guarantee badge can increase conversion rates by 32%?
A money back guarantee is a bit ballsy, isn’t it? Before addressing this concern, let’s talk about the purpose of a guarantee. They’re used to build trust with your potential customers and get them over the hurdle of the fear to purchase.
Warning – we know a guarantee will catapult your conversions, but don’t use a guarantee unless it’s something you can live up to. With that said, there are many types of guarantees you can use to instill trust in your offering, while still feeling confident you can deliver on your word.
A guarantee can be offered on your product, service, results, experience or even price, for example, you can offer a “Best Price Guarantee.”
This type of guarantee is easy for an owner to leverage since you’re in control of your pricing. It can really help in boosting your direct bookings. Easy – right?
Think about what you can offer, whether that’s a guarantee to your guests that you’ll make it right if something goes wrong – or something else. Get creative with your guarantee and make it powerful!
Now, let’s circle back to the “Money Back Guarantee.” One of my clients Jerry has crafted a guarantee that has been effective for his vacation rental bookings. He doubled-down on this money back strategy, offering his guests a Double Your Money Back Guarantee!
Here’s how he used this technique.
37 Signals reported that – Including a picture of a person smiling increased website conversions by 102.5 percent!
This was verified through a series of AB tests which included several versions of a landing page. The versions included a page with standard images against a version with images of a person smiling and the results were astounding – a 102.5% increase in conversions!
Over on the BreakAway Vacation Rentals blog, I wrote about how our brains react to facial expressions. In that article, I suggested using a profile photo of yourself smiling on your vacation rental website.
In my free social media marketing guide for vacation rentals, I also suggested connecting with travelers on Facebook (where they share their vacation photos) and requesting reviews from them.
In tip #3 of this post, we discussed reviews and placing them near the contact/inquiry form. Now, amplify those results even further by including a smiling photo of a traveler in the review preview like Tom did on his site (below).
Visitors + Conversion = Bookings!
Helpful? I hope you’ve enjoyed our conversion series so far. If you’d like us to continue posting proven techniques that help to convert more visitors into inquiries – share your comment below and let us know your thoughts?
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