Africa Adventure - Destination Marketing since 1998

Ten Reasons why travellers won't Book through your Website

Ten Reasons why travellers won't Book through your Website

The "Six Tips to convert Lookers into Bookers" has created quite a stir and many of you came back to me wanting to know details and what are the biggest mistakes you can make on your own website.

You're wasting your money. Every time you spend big on AdWords, SEO and social campaigns – it's all pointless.

Because your website is scaring visitors!

First impressions count. In fact, research shows that web design drives a whopping 94% of first impressions. Bad design leads to lower trust and higher friction. This means, no matter how much traffic you drive to your site, if your design isn't right, your leads will walk straight out the door. Make your website earn its keep and put it to the test.

Here are 10 most common design mistakes that mean travellers won't book from your website.

Mistake 1: Low quality visuals

I've seen thousands of websites in my online marketing career and most have something in common. They don't sell. Rather they are simply online catalogues or even worse are cluttered with outdated low quality pictures or cheesy stock images.

With today's technology, taking a good picture is easier than ever. With a good website design nearly any picture can look good and you don't need to spend money on a professional photo shoot. Please use real staff photos instead of dated stock images and you need to make sure your images transmit what you want to sell to your customers.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is said to be worth a thousand pictures, or a million words. Either way, a video is powerful and provides a quick and easy way to impart a lot of information effectively and in a digestible format.

If I'm seeking a beach holiday, I am more likely to consider an establishment offering a video that demonstrates how close it is to the beach and how great the beach looks. Your Google ranking for your website will be prioritised if it hosts a video, because Google now owns YouTube, so consider getting a 90-second corporate video to improve your SEO.

Mistake 2: The site doesn't appeal to your target Audience

Who is your target audience?

Do you sell to backpackers, families, young professional couples or to the golden oldies? 

Now examine your website. Does it speak to your demographic? Has it been translated into the same vernacular they use? Is it comfortably within their education level? Will the design, images and content appeal to them? It's unlikely that a backpacker will willingly read about exclusive and luxurious travel / accommodation, or a golden oldie reads the section on blood freezing adventures, so don't try to make them.

Mistake 3: Content is stale and boring

Users spend roughly 5.59 seconds focusing on a site's written content. These statistics come from eye-tracking studies conducted at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. This means you don't have much time to capture a reader's' attention, so make sure that you write great stuff.

Have you ever scrolled to the bottom of a web page to where a copyright date is listed, and found that it's outdated by a year, or two? It doesn't offer much confidence that the company who owns the site is doing any recent business.
A website that's outdated, or looks that way because of an outdated design is an instant turn off to clients. Ensure that your website is current by implementing the latest technology, refreshing existing copy regularly, and adding new, quality copy every week. And don't forget to update the year in the copyright footer at the bottom of your website.

The ideal length of a blog post is claimed to be 7 minutes or 1,600 words according to research. However, this assumes it contains interesting, informative material.

Mistake 4: Under-estimating the importance of the 'About Us' and 'Contact Us' pages    

You'd be surprised at how many users check out your 'About Us' page. Research using heatmaps has found that 'About Us' is one of the most visited pages on the website. Users do actually want to know more about you so showcase what you've got. If you have great staff, tell them. If you have high profile clientele, let them know.

The 'Contact Us' page ranks almost on the same scale. Even if you run a small seasonal business, your website should have a phone number and email address for users to see and call or email. Having a simple web form without any basic contact information looks transient and suspicious.

Mistake 5: No real time booking (or poorly working) facility

Have you ever personally booked through your own website? How many steps were involved? If it was more than one, then it was too many.
In other words, your booking should be a one pager. Requiring guests to sign up before they can book, or even view the home page, is another turn-off.

 Mistake 6: Your trust indicators are missing

When users first land on your website, they don't know you, they don't trust you, they might not even like you, so how can you expect them to book with you?

Missing contact information, bad reviews, and a lack of social proof can damage a user's confidence in your brand. Prior to doing business with your company most clients will cast their eyes over online reviews from third-party sites such as Trip Advisor, Google, or other local directories. These independent reviews carry a lot of weight on the 'trust' scales. It's important to generate them and to ensure they are positive. Set up Google Alerts to monitor what other people are saying about your business and address their comments immediately to manage your online reputation.

According to research on Trust and Mistrust participants mistrusted websites because of these elements.

  • Busy or complex layouts
  • Pop-up advertisements and flamboyant ads
  • Small print that's hard to read
  • Boring web design/lack of colour
  • Slow website intros and load times
On the flip side, noting company partners, media mentions, staff photographs, certifications and links to active and up to date social media accounts generates strong credibility.

Mistake 7: Bad SEO

Bad SEO techniques can hurt your website and make it a complete waste of time.

Google will crack down on your website if it detects questionable practices such as links that are irrelevant to the website's theme, keyword stuffing, cloaking, linking to irrelevant websites.

Mistake 8: Not being mobile friendly

Mobile search is the future and 72% of consumers want mobile-friendly Sites, Google Research indicated. 55% of respondents agreed, "A frustrating experience on a website hurts my opinion of the brand overall." So what, exactly, are consumers looking for in a website accessed from a mobile device?

  • Site speed—loading time of 5 seconds or less
  • Big, finger-friendly buttons
  • Limited scrolling and pinching
  • Quick access to business contact information
  • "Click to call" access to phone the business
  • One-direction scrolling, either horizontal or vertical, but not both.

Already a few years ago, Google started penalising mobile-unfriendly websites. If your site's pages aren't mobile-friendly, Google warns there 'may be' (read 'will be') a significant decrease in mobile traffic from Google Search. But once your site becomes mobile-friendly, it will automatically re-process (i.e., crawl and index) your pages.

Mistake 9: Not having a clear value proposition

In a nutshell, a value proposition is a clear statement that:

  • explains how your establishment solves travellers' problems or improves their situation (relevancy)
  • delivers specific benefits (quantified value)
  • explains why the customer should book with you and not with the competition (unique differentiation).

Your value proposition should be the first thing visitors see on your home page and on all major entry points of your website.

A good value proposition:

  • Is clear about what it is and for whom
  • There is a specific lead paragraph
  • Key features are outlined above the fold
  • There's a relevant image
  • It features a booster

Mistake 10: No available calls-to-action

You don't want your website visitors to leave your website without doing anything. You need to at least capture their basic information so you can follow up / include them into your mailing list.

You can do this by providing something free or offering a great deal. Who doesn't like free stuff, after all?

Techniques that entice visitors into signing up include E-Books (information on your destination perhaps) or special discount vouchers. You need to highlight the call to action you prefer users to take. As sample: "Realtime online booking" or "We accept Credit Cards"

So, how does your website sell?

Share with me! If you can tick all the boxes, well done. If not, tackle each point one at a time and remember, Rome wasn't built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour.

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