Websites, Conversions, Mobile Sites

Let’s think of who is making reservations today. Probably the 30-70 year old range. These people have grown up with a desktop computer and a laptop. Some of us have even transitioned to an iPad. Mobile phoneS applies to a certain group of these people. When I refer to a cell phone, I refer to the comfort level of looking for a rental on a mobile phone.

So, what do I do with my website? How do I increase conversions? Is a mobile site important? The answer is YES and NO. That was an easy article…….

Basically, you definitely need to focus on your website but don’t forget something very important. When I go to Hawaii, I don’t need a massive (giant) picture. I need to know where to go. The best conversions I have ever seen are basically forms asking for you to put together a package. Our websites are overwhelming. We don’t see it because we look at our website every day. It is easy for us to navigate. Everything is nice and neat like every site. However, when you are going to take a vacation, I think the first thing you would do is browse through properties. If you like something, you will read over the home and then look at the reviews. How many of you have a TON of reviews on your own website? This is a rarity. Everyone wants reviews on VRBO and everywhere else. Yes, those are important too but what about your own website? Your company? Where your repeat customers will go? I urge you to bring in people who don’t know about your company and ask them to plan a vacation on your website. Watch what they do. Then, create a button, LET US PLAN YOUR VACATION FOR YOU. Name, Email, Phone, Dates. We will call you back and help you plan the perfect vacation. Then, do the same exercise. Follow them along with the LET US PLAN YOUR VACATION FOR YOU….. If you take the time to do this, please share your results. I would love to know what you find. I believe travel agents are coming back. Don’t limit yourself to just a vacation rental website. Provide the experience of a vacation!

In terms of conversions, I go back to my comments above. I have looked at websites which are beautiful, then moved on. I can’t explain why. Maybe it is initial sticker shock? Maybe it is the fact that I want a Google style result. I cannot explain it. I am drawn to certain websites. Conversions don’t happen without studying the tendencies of your audience. A booking website for a Florida vacation rental could be completely different than one for Maine vacation rentals. WHY? Because one could be known for condos, hotels or strictly vacation rentals. The other could be famous for vacation rentals only. Have you studied your audience? Do you know what people are searching in your area? Destin Vacation Rentals Near The Beach? Destin Condos On The Beach? Destin Hotels? Destin Vacation Packages? If you are not doing your research, you are missing the first step in conversions. If I am looking mainly for condos and that is 90% of the search volume in my location, I have to relate my website to condos. Even if I sell homes. I might need to pick up 2-4 condos just to provide condo results and then allow them to see that there are also homes in the area.

Conversion studies are endless. Visit http://www.1800flowers.com. They actually study whether it is better to show JUST the top part of the flowers or the entire flower…. The website is busy but 3 things sure stand out if I am looking to buy something…. ;). The contrast of the background in the main picture. Notice that background is blurred and the table on which the flowers are sitting is very crisp. That is no accident. Look at the section title Summer Roses are now in Bloom. Why are the first roses faded and then suddenly they get very sharp? I wonder what is below that? They are luring you to do things on their website. It is very tricky and they are actually one of the best at conversions. Look at the bottom right, Google Trusted Store…. What? You are telling me that Google trusts this store? I am buying here. The power of the internet trusts this site. In our case, trip advisor is the authority. Use that to your advantage. Remember, going on vacation is not about seeing the biggest rotating picture about your area. Why wouldn’t you showcase 4 amazing homes with a form on the right asking them to allow you to plan their vacation? Because it is not the norm. Everyone wants the search widget. That must be what everyone who is looking around probably wants…. Maybe. I am just as guilty as everyone else. But I work with a lot of people in the travel industry. The highest converting website that I am aware of is a website that mainly offers help in planning a vacation. Sometimes the leads are garbage. But, leads are leads.

I want to finish up with mobile websites and touching on Facebook. Facebook is coming…. They are coming quickly. You better have your ducks in a row. You better have a nice, converting Facebook page. Your mobile website better be in place, and conversion friendly. Also, when it comes to a mobile website, ask yourself if you would enter a credit card for a $2500.00 reservation on a mobile phone. If you remember, it took a long time for people to be comfortable entering credit cards on the internet. We still have those who refuse to do so. Now, a mobile phone? We use our mobile phones for a few things.

1) Play games.
2) Utilize the amazing mobile apps provided by Streamline.
3) TEXT
4) MAKE PHONE CALLS
5) EMAIL

If your mobile website makes any of option 3,4,5 complicated or not obvious, you are giving away the #1 conversion method for mobile phones. That is 40-50% of your traffic……. Let me look at some pictures, then I will call you. Ask yourself how you would use the site on a phone? Bring people in and let them pull out their phones and ask them to use it and let you know if they run into any problems. Let them know that they will need to enter credit cards if they want to make a reservation. Let’s see who enters a credit card. There is no ANSWER. There are only options for studies that will allow you to pinpoint the perfect conditions for you to maximize conversions. Regarding Facebook, the facebookers are becoming the next waive of guests. Are you ready for them? Do you have them all in your Facebook page to make sending out specials ready? This wave is around the corner…..

So much work to do!

Always stay on top of trends in your area. RIDE THE WAVE! What I mean, it is ok to look at other successful vacation rental companies. What are they doing? What strategies are they using?

At the end, make your own conclusions…

But TEST, TEST, TEST and then when you get results. Figure out another way to test in order to increase those results. Google provides great A-B testing and multi-variable testing. That is like saying blah, blah, blah, blah. Take some time to type that into Google and read a little bit about that. This allows you to see two different sites to see which one converts better. Multi variable testing allows you to get very creative. Like switching colors on a button randomly as visitors come to your website. Google will then show you which color performed best. Also, take a look at reservation funnels. Where are you losing people on the checkout flow? Google allows you to create funnels that show you when people exit the checkout process on your website. There are so many tools out there that you will go insane just keeping up. Don’t be afraid to hire conversion specialists. If Google is the main source of your business, it will be an astronomical impact to your revenue.

Good luck with your rentals and I hope your revenue keep increasing……..

-Carlos Corzo, CEO