They optimize the booking flow so it results in more bookings. They acheive this by a combination of design, colour contrast, subliminal messaging, social proof & more.
Let us have a look at the hotel booking flow in detail.
The Search Box
- Placement: The search box is placed on the left hand side which is where most people first looks on a webpage. This is normal in english speakers as the language is read from left to right. Years of training makes this a natural process.
- Use of colour: The box also has a blue border around it, this creates a contrast from the rest of the page. Contrasting colours helps in drawing a visitors attention to the area you want them to notice.
- Easy to begin: The box itself is simple and does not require a lot of information from the user to take the next step. This is important, why? because the more information you ask, the less likely a visitor will take action.
- Best Rate Guarantee: Now this is interesting, the best rate guarantee text is larger than the search button. They absolutely want to make sure the visitor knows that he/she is getting the best rate. The proximity to the search button makes sure that a person does not miss it.
Once you click the search button you are taken to a landing page with multiple hotel listing. There are multiple ways to sort the page. You can sort it by price, location, etc.
But, once you select a hotel you interested in, the subliminal messaging starts again.
You see this message pop up on the top right of the screen. It re-enforces that it is ok to book this hotel because someone just booked it few hours ago.
All the images in this post can be enlarged by clicking on it. Just incase you cannot read the comments on them.
Price, Photos, BRG, Guest Ratings & Reviews
The hotel information is presented in a very clear and concise manner. When you look on the right of this image you will see the price, BRG, guest ratings & reviews in one view.
On the left and center of the listing are the hotel images. Visuals are a very important piece of the buying experience, if you look at your web analytics you will see the photos page or gallery will be one of the highest traffic pages on your site.
Location, Location, Location
Where the hotel is located plays an important part in deciding whether you will stay there or not. This information easily viewable and it is placed right below the photos, ratings and rates section.
In case you change your mind there is a search box is placed right above the various available rooms. And, on the right hand another message appears and it delivers two messages. The number of people looking at the hotel at that very time and also how many bookings were made in the last few hours.
So, what is going on here?
- Minimal information required: There are only 3 fields of information required and only two are mandatory. This makes it easy to get the user to the next step. They are not overwhelmed by the amount of information required to make a booking and are eased into the process.
- How long to finish: It only takes three steps to confirm and it is displayed on the top left.
- Trip summary: What you are booking is summarized along with the congratulatory message.
- Account login options: If you have an account then the login option is placed just above the name field. Make it even easier to fill out the info.
- Time to cancel: The time remaining in cancelling without charge is placed right next to the continue button. This puts a person at ease to book without concerns about changing their mind later on.
- It carries some of the same information over from the first step. This includes the Trip Summary, the steps to complete a reservation and the congratulatory message.
- Pre-checked email box: This helps in signing people up for email offers. The key is that the box is pre-checked, this way a user does not have to take an extra step to sign up.
- Create an Expedia account (Optional): This is highlighted by the grey background and it is made part of the booking flow. All a user needs to do is add a password. Again, making it very easy.
- Call to Action (CTA): The text on the call to action button is changed from “continue” to “complete booking”.
- Free Cancellation: The message is placed right next to complete booking button to reassure the booker again that there is still time if in case he/she changes their mind after making a reservation.
Overall Expedia has refined the booking process considerably when compared to its last version but there are simple princples in play here.
- Make it easy: Make it easy to find the starting point. Use contrasting colours to highlight the starting point.
- Ease into it: Ask for minimal information to begin with. This gets the potential going without asking for too much info and once a person reaches the second he/she has already invested time and effort into it. It also gives a sense of accomplishment (small wins help) to the user.
- You are getting the best deal: Make it feel like a win for the customer
- Only a few steps to confirm a booking: It does not take long to make a booking.
- Remove distractions: Once a visitors enters the booking funnel remove unneccesary distractions. This includes photos, links etc that can lead a person away from making a reservation.
- Reviews: Guest reviews are highlighted, as in, the ratings are shown.
- Aid the decision making process: Make it easy for the visitors to access the information they require to make a decision to book. This includes photos, location, and reviews.
- Subliminal Social Proof: This shows there are others who are looking at the hotel at the same as you and many have made reservations in the last few hours.
- Leverage the booking flow: Increase your email sign ups by using a pre-checked email sign up box. If you leave this up to the user your sign up rate will be very low. As the user does not have to take any action the sign ups are higher. If you want people to create an account, again leverage the flow but make it optional. If completeling a reservation requires creating an account your conversion rate will suffer drasctically.
So, what have you tried to improve direct website bookings?