A website’s bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave after only viewing a single page. Overlay this with the fact that more than half of the people who enter a website leave in less than 15 seconds and you start to see a concerning phenomenon – the ‘trampoline’ effect.
A trampoline website is characterised with a high bounce rate and a low ‘dwell’ time – the amount of time spent viewing the page.
For hotels, having a trampoline homepage is not just damaging to a direct booking strategy, it can turn people away from the hotel altogether. The online travel market is a highly competitive space, and if you don’t accurately portray the benefits of your hotel and impress right off the bat, then you might have just lost a reservation to a competitor.
Here we look at some surprisingly easy ways to decrease your bounce rate and prevent valuable traffic from leaving your website.
The reality of today’s online booking process is that hoteliers are not in control of the first impression a guest has of the hotel. With large quantities of traffic originating from OTA listings, these guests are familiar with the price, location and amenities of a hotel before they’ve even seen the hotel’s own webpages. This incoming traffic, known as The Billboard effect, is the increased visibility and bookings on a hotel’s website, brought by guests who discovered the hotel on a third party website (online travel agent). In fact after finding a hotel through an OTA, one third will go check the hotel website for more information or to compare rates.
Instead of serving the same basic information to traffic that originates from OTA sites, smart hoteliers can welcome these website visitors with compelling reasons to book direct. By presenting the benefits as to why it is best to book directly on your website instead of the same information they’ve already seen, hoteliers can simultaneously reduce bounce rate and increase website conversion. Hotelchamp’s Welcome solution can be highly customised with custom messaging, seamlessly matches hotel branding and can be equipped with custom targeting tailored to serve certain traffic sources, new vs returning visitors and more.
One of the easiest ways to lose a website visitor is for them to not even see your website in the first place. Research conducted by KISSmetrics concluded that 47% of consumers expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less and 52% of consumers state that the quickness of page loading impacts their site loyalty. Another alarming statistic revealed in this research was that 40% of people abandon their carts if a website take longer than 3 seconds to load.
There are a number of ways to speed up your website without sacrificing content – from implementing new image formats, to removing outdated plugins your website may not be using anymore. Speak to your web developer to see if there are behind-the-scene tweaks to make your website leaner and meaner
The Hotel Website is your Online Lobby
When designing the lobby of your hotel, there are a number of decisions that your architects, owners and builders made to make sure it functions as a lobby should. Is it immediately clear where guests can check in? Is there ample seating for waiting guests? Is it well lit? These sorts of decisions that ensure your lobby is welcoming, functional and good-looking are just as important for your hotel website too. When designing a website, this is defined as user experience (UX), and encompasses for more than just how good a website looks.
Like the design of your hotel lobby, UX is made up of many facets, with none being able to stand on its own. A common misconception is that user experience simply equals usability. An easy way to explain and visualise the user experience is Peter Morvilles’ User Experience honeycomb:
Useful - is the information on the site relevant?
Asking yourself if the website is useful for guests is the most basic requirement for the UX, and a common pitfall for hotel websites is that information is difficult to read or not relevant. Consider the purpose of each page and think about what the visitor’s objective is. According to data by Tony Haile of Chartbeat, a website has less than 15 seconds to capture the attention of a person reading the content. Add to this the fact that 45% of guests say they would book direct if shown the right perks and you start to see that the purpose of the guest each page needs to be closely aligned with the customer’s motivation and journey through your website.
Usable - are guests able to use it?
Navigation might seem like a no-brainer, but it is a scenario that is often overlooked. When guests can’t find what they’re looking for they are more likely to click away and go to an OTA where they may be more familiar with the method of navigation. An easy way to check if your website has optimal navigation is to conduct basic user testing - it doesn’t have to be official, simply sit with friends or colleagues who aren’t involved with your website and ask them to complete simple tasks, like checking rates or availability for a specific day. The job of good UX is to be undetectable – people only notice when something is wrong. By getting neutral people to identify where something is intuitively not quite right, you can then easily identify what to fix with your hotel development team.
Desirable - do people want to use it?
Desirability goes hand in hand with the design of a website – the value communicated by image, identity, brand and elements of emotional design. Emotional design is used to increase user engagement - because design is a true act of communication. Do not underestimate the value of having a great looking and professionally ‘designed’ website. As well as being a complimentary representation of your establishment, having a desirable looking website instils a premium value long before a guest has viewed your rooms and rates.
Findable - can people easily find it?
Hoteliers must strive to design a navigable website where elements can be easily located, so users can easily find what they require. Often times, hotel websites can be hard to navigate through and potential guests might not be able to locate the “Book Now” button, or where to find certain hotel information like location. This information may be more readily available on an OTA whose interface they are more familiar with, so it’s crucial for your website to provide it effortlessly to the visitor.
Accessible - can anyone access it?
Hotel buildings have been adapted to accommodate guests with disabilities on-site, and there should be just as much commitment from hotel websites to remain accessible to all people. For example, is your website fully responsive in case people need to view it in a magnified format? Or are you including proper alt text for images so that reader software can accurately describe it?
Credible - do people trust you?
If you’re part of large hotel chain, such as Hilton and Marriott, congratulations – you don’t have any credibility issues.
For lesser known brands though, your website is likely your introduction and the first point of contact with potential guests – responsible for the first impressions and of course a source of income. As such, it is important for your website to communicate credibility and in return, trust. There are four types of credibility:
- Presumed Credibility - These are general assumptions - brands that are known like Nike are more credible than lesser known brands.
- Reputed Credibility - This is a reference from a third party. For example, whilst you may not have heard of a brand, the fact that other trusted sources like media or customer testimonials praise them is more likely to build your credibility of their quality.
- Surface Credibility - This refers when you have conducted an inspection of the product/website. A poor quality website, riddled with spelling errors and broken links may indicate that the owner has a similar disregard for the quality of their product.
- Earned Credibility -When you have had a first-hand positive experience from a product/website – on by means of friendly customer service or rapid delivery.
Dr. Brent Coker studied the impact of well designed websites on human behaviour. His study concluded that “As aesthetically oriented humans, we’re psychologically hardwired to trust beautiful people, and the same goes for websites. Our offline behaviour and inclinations translate to our online existence.”
Valuable - does it add value?
Hotel websites are made to deliver value to customers and convince them to book direct. Why should a potential guest book on your hotel website instead of an OTA? Why is your hotel better than your competitors? These are essential questions to ask yourself and how you can communicate that. There are many ways to optimise your website to persuade guests to book direct rather than on an OTA site. Hotelchamp can help you to show the benefits of booking on your site. These UX honeycomb elements should guide not only the design of your website but also provide guests with a better impression of your hotel.
Lowering your bounce rate and increasing your dwell time is not something that will happen overnight – but without a sustained commitment to improving your aesthetics and functionality then hotels will continue to waste valuable traffic. By orienting, optimising and targeting your website to what a guest wants to see and not simply what you want to show them, you are already well on the way to dismantling the trampoline.