The Cart Abandonment Mystery: Solved for Vacation Rentals

We can all agree that one of the most frustrating things to see is when a consumer is one step from buying and then for some reason, they don’t. A good majority of the business model in the vacation rental industry is based around e-commerce so having the proper tools for that space is essential in closing the deal and generating revenue. And no matter who you are, we all have issues with cart abandonment.

Cart abandonment in vacation rental marketing terms is when a user gets to a check-out page and then leaves for various reasons.  (There really are not “carts” for the rental industry.)

On average cart abandonment is responsible for over 82% of lost sales every year, that’s a huge number! However, ICND clients have been able to turn that negative statistic into revenue due to some of the tools they have access too. Some clients are recapturing 20% of the abandoned traffic which results to an average of $50,000 per month recaptured that otherwise would be lost; that adds up to $600,000 per year in generated revenue from a simple process.

Automated Emails Bring Potential Guests Back

The magic is in the tools we use and it starts with our booking engine. Our booking engine sends out a “reminder” email, much like Amazon, if the user didn’t complete their purchase.   There could be many reason’s someone abandon’s their booking.  Maybe they want to compare pricing, maybe they get distracted.  Who knows.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: The consumer reaches the “Booking” page and starts entering information.
Step 2: For some reason, they don’t book but the information is recorded and stored in your database.
Step 3: After a certain amount of time, if they don’t convert, the system automatically sends a follow-up email to remind them to come back and book.

But what’s awesome is we offer a back-end dashboard that tracks ALL of these emails:

  • When they abandoned their checkout
  • When the reminder email was sent
  • When it was opened
  • Whether they returned and booked or not
  • Oh, of course, their name and email address
All emails and stats for the cart abandonment are recorded in your back end.

Let’s Make It Easy for the Guests

We all know a user will visit your website multiple times before booking.  That’s just how it is.  So what if we made it easier on them to return and BOOK?  That’s why ICND was proactive to introduce this concept to the VRM industry and the results have been exceptional.

If a potential guest abandons their checkout, we ALSO have a nifty little gadget that shows them the unit they abandoned once they RETURN to the site.

Rentals Cart Abandonment
When a user returns to your site and didn’t book, they get this, sending them down the sales funnel faster.

Seamless Integrations

Our Lead Tracker tool organizes and categorizes leads so they are easy to segment and market too. It will also capture as much information as it can such as name, phone number, and property ID.

This is a simple process to grow revenue and improve your brand’s image by staying in front of your audience. If you’re curious about implementing this strategy into your overall marketing toolkit, give us a call and we’ll show you how you can start growing your revenue and creating more satisfied customers.  Don’t forget to check out our award winning website designs for vacation rental companies as well!

Top 5 Rental Website Conversion Tactics to Boost your Bookings

Do you find your website generating a large volume of traffic but not yielding enough conversions? This is one of the many challenges many vacation rental managers face when it comes to their digital marketing success. Identifying the potential causes of failing to convert those lookers into bookers is the first step into solving this very common problem.

Can you answer these questions that as a marketer or manager should be able to answer?

Think about your online conversion rate.  If you get 1,000 visitors to your website a day, but only convert 2% that’s 20 reservations.  But what if you could increase that percentage to 10%?  That’s 80 more reservations a day you are making online.  This is why website conversion optimization is so important.  We want you to increase your traffic, but we want you to also focus on converting a higher percentage of that traffic.  That’s where the real money is.

It’s important that you have a team that knows what they are doing: where to put things, how to word things, what color to make calls to action.  What makes a person go or stop, and how to funnel traffic throughout your website.  That’s what we specialize in Conversion Focused websites.

 

The Top Conversion Tactics

Conversion Tactic #1: Make it Mobile!

It’s really important visitors can navigate your site from any mobile or desktop device.  Most people are shopping on mobile devices and make their purchases on a desktop.  This is the same with travel purchases. But mobile conversions are on the rise, so you need to be thinking about your mobile architecture and usability for mobile navigation.Incorporate marketing – people open their email, see start shopping

For 30% mobile 80% bookings come from desktop.Mobile traffic is up 200% in the past few years.

 

Conversion Tactic #2: Up Your Elements

So let’s talk about some of those elements that help funnel your traffic.  One of the most important things it to make sure your quick search is above the fold.  Use cool verbiage in your calls to action, like “Begin Your Adventure” rather than just “Start  your Search”.  Use brighter colors to call their focus for book now.

It’s online marketing’s job to get traffic to your site, but it’s usability and functionality that uses some psychology to make them book.  This is a screen shot of our booking engine.

The visitor has landed on the website and began to search.  They could be shopping around for price and availability.  We’ve incorporated urgency into our booking engine.  We show that search has only produced X amount of properties, or 82% of our inventory matching your search results is booked, reserve now, or showing that 22 people have viewed this property in the last 3 hours.  These elements show the visitor, they need to take action before their selection is gone.

Conversion Tactic #3: Make It Easy!

In order to find a property, you’ve got to have the tools to help them.  Having a refine search with popular features is necessary for your visitors to drill down and find the perfect property.  If you’re a hotel, this maybe different for you, you only have a couple room types, but making it easy for them to find those room types, pricing, and ability to book them.

Then you want to make sure you are tracking our searches.  What are your most popular arrival dates?  What is the average length of stay people are searching for?  Do you have a lot of people looking for something that is pet friendly, but only a handful of pet friendly properties.  This could open up opportunities for you to expand your inventory.  Let’s say you get a lot of people searching for 3 BR oceanfront at the <xxx> Resort, but you only have 1.  This could be an opportunity to market to owners there telling them you have the demand, but you need more supply.  Having tangible results from actual searches performed on your website could be a powerful tool to potential owners – especially with the analytics to back it up.

Conversion Tactic #4: Focus on the Booking Page

Take a look at your conversion rates from your check out pages.  This is probably one of the most important pages.  You work so hard to get a visitor there.  Obsess over this rate.  We pay so much attention to the pretty pictures and design, and you may think this is just a standard form.  It’s not.  We’ve learned from improving our clients check out pages and also from looking at what the big dogs do –

  • strip out your navigation,
  • make the form easy to fill out and fit on one page,
  • and easy to fill out on a mobile device
  • have your totals adjust as they add on or opt-out of things like travel insurance
  • make sure they know it’s secure, and make sure it’s simple.

Conversion Tactic #5: Watch the Users and Adapt

Navis is going to tell you a lot about what happens to a lead after they’ve made contact with you or booked, but if they didn’t get there –say they landed on your website and bounced or exited before booking or making contact, you have to take a look at your funnels in Google Analytics.  This is going to be going in and looking at your pages, page views, and conversions from those pages.

Say they land on your specials page, but don’t know how to execute the special.  Well it can result in an exit rather than a booking.  If you see high bounce or exit rates on your pages at any point in your funnel, you are going to want to drill down and figure out why.  You can install more tracking through Crazy Egg heat mapping or watch video clips of visitors looking at your site and what they are doing.  This going to tell if your visitors are getting lost, if they are backing out at the check out pages, or trying things that will help with conversions.  Maybe it’s a call to action, maybe your promo code field is not visible, you have to dig in and see what visitors are doing to help make changes to your funnel.

Final Converting Thoughts

“Beautiful websites don’t generate leads”. There are a ton of fantastic web designers out there that can create a great and beautiful website, but they may not be centered around conversions. We like to call those websites “All flash and no cash”. When you go with ICND,  you are choosing a company that has researched and implemented the elements that will help you increase you conversion rates.

Mobile Bookings Are On The Rise [20+ Sites Data]

Mobilebookingblog2

Let’s face it, there’s one word we’re all sick and tired of hearing:

Mobile, mobile, mobile.

It’s a topic we haven’t been able to get away from since responsive web design came back in vogue a few years ago.

Well, today I’m here to tell you that responsive design is great — but it’s a foregone conclusion nowadays that your website is mobile-friendly. As your guests become increasingly mobile-savvy, they’re booking more and more with their mobile phones – making the following studies incredibly pertinent to your business, now and into the future.

Let’s dig into the data.

Continue reading “Mobile Bookings Are On The Rise [20+ Sites Data]”

Periscope for Vacation Rental Managers

twitter-periscope-graphic

Periscope is the newest addition to the property manager’s tool bag. Use Twitter’s new live streaming app to market your properties instantly. Personalized videos increase the visibility of available rentals and allow you to connect with vacationers around the world.

By combining the power of social networking and the advantages of video marketing, Periscope offers a new way for you to grow your management business without investing capital. In fact, the app is free. You can download it now and start streaming live videos using any Android device or Apple iOS product. Highlight your entire rental portfolio or a preferred property that’s new or under rented.

Periscope was introduced in March 2015, so you can be an early adopter and achieve greater success during this vacation season. Video streaming is the newest way to rent more units, increase the visibility of available properties and reach your target audience wherever it is. If you’re ready to harness the power of21st century technology and grow your vacation rental business, here a few marketing ideas to get you started.

Four Ideas for Using Periscope

periscope-graphic-phone

1. Marketing New Properties

With Periscope, you can show your Twitter followers new listings as soon as they hit your desk. You can market the property during a live tour and follow that up with a second video that highlights the amenities, surroundings and local neighborhood. Live videos create a competitive environment where vacationers are motivated to rent new properties quickly. Increased demand can boost rental income.

2. Giving Private Tours

Whether you have clients in Omaha or Osaka, you can showcase any local property instantly with a private Periscope video. Recipients don’t need the Periscope app because public and private streams can be viewed via Twitter. Videos can be streamed instantly or replayed within 24 hours even if your client is halfway around the world. You can walk, talk, record and stream at the same time. You can also interact with viewers and respond to questions or comments.

 

Periscope

3. Boosting Rental Performance and Revenue

The ability to reach your target audience wherever and whenever is a great skill. When a property is going unrented during tricky end-of-season or off-season dates, this advantage is priceless. Periscope makes it easy for property managers and real estate agents to promote special offers, short-notice deals and individual properties. If a renter backs out at the last minute or if you need to fill a slow weekend, Periscope can help you connect with the ideal renter.

4. Simplifying Schedules and Keeping Clients Happy

It’s never been this easy to connect with vacationers and property owners at the same time while keeping folks on both sides of the rental equation happy. Renters can view virtual tours and find the ideal property quickly. If a property is fully booked for the season, you can let everyone know with a short comment. On the other hand, you can keep clients current on rental details and inventory availability. Open lines of communication increase client satisfaction and can earn you valuable word-of-mouth referrals.

Maximizing the capabilities of a free app is the definition of creative marketing. Unleash your originality, and release your resourcefulness. To get your vacation properties seen by more renters, start Scoping today.

How Guests Actually Book Vacation Rentals Online

Get More Bookings

 

Online bookings.

They’re wonderful, aren’t they? You just sit back and relax, while guests enter their credit card information into a checkout page, giving you money.

If you’ve invested into a industry-leading vacation rental website design, you’ll start to increase your online booking percentage by a healthy margin. And, if you’re like us, you want to see how your marketing investment is going to pay off in the long-term.

But, if you haven’t invested in upgrading your vacation rental website lately, you may wonder what you’re missing out on. After all, it’s easy to rely on the crutch of a large listing site sending you leads instead of investing into your own website’s platform first.

At InterCoastal Net Designs, we’ve spent years refining the vacation rental booking steps, processes,flow, and layout. Across the past year, we’ve seen amazing leaps in conversion rates, online booking revenue and overall website performance. We’ve been relentlessly trying to measure and evaluate every single step of a vacation rental website booking – all with a single goal of providing more online bookings.

But, showing off these results isn’t always easy – because website conversions are messy. Simply put, guests rarely book the same way, during the same visit with the same steps. Every conversion ends a little bit differently – just like your rentals!

Do you want to better understand and learn how your guests actually book on your website? Read on.

Step 1: Measuring Accurately

 

goals-in-google-analytics

 

First up, before you can even think about digging into your website and evaluating its performance, you need to make sure you’re measuring your web analytics properly.

You should have the following elements already setup (at minimum):

  • Google Analytics on every page
  • E-commerce tracking firing on the checkout confirm page
  • Google Analytics goals active for every lead point
  • Tracking submissions of general contact forms
  • Measuring lead generation forms or property question forms
  • Counting the number of searches that happen on your website

 

This base set of measurements will help you check your website performance later on. It’s easy to get caught up in the stats and numbers. But, if you have all of these pieces being measured correctly, then you’ll be off on the right foot. If you’re looking for more resources, check out your Google Analytics reports under the “Goals” and “E-commerce” sections for a better idea of the interactions that are happening on your website.

Step 2: Nailing Down The Basics

 

Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 2.08.51 PM

 

After you’ve tested and made sure you’re tracking everything correctly, the next step is to make sure your basics are covered.

For our vacation rental websites, this means that we’ve got all of our lead-capture forms working and they’re being tracked. Next, we’re making sure that the base (foundation) of the booking process is sound.

Questions to keep in mind as you work through the usability of the website and booking process:

  • Does the homepage have an easy to use quick search box?
  • Can I quickly filter my results?
  • Do I have to constantly click lots of forms, or it easy and simple to filter my results?
  • On the results page, is there an urgency component that makes me want to book this rental?
  • How does the photography look – can I see the quality of the rental easily?
  • When viewing a property detail page, does it show me critical information like reviews, availability,  location (quick map) and rates?
  • What are the property amenities and description like? Can I use this data to solve most questions before they clog up my inbox?
  •  What about reviews? They should be up to date, easy to find and have names attached.

Your guests are going to evaluate every single element of your website design – they’re looking for all of the information they could possibly need– plus a bit more too!

If any one of these foundation checkpoints (above checklist) isn’t addressed clearly, many guests will just leave and not bother to book with you. Your professionalism and competency as a vacation rental company often comes down to first impressions – and your website is that first impression for your brand.

Making sure that the basics are nailed in your vacation website is critical.  If it’s too hard for a guest to book online, then your chances of conversion fall even more.

Elegantly executing on the basics leads to a fantastic user experience. As you’ll learn in this next section, guests don’t book on their first visit. To keep them around and happy, you’ll have to exceed their expectations.

 

instant-filter-vacation-rental-booking-engine

Step 3: Digging In Deeper

 

diggin-in

 

The next step, after confirming you’re working with a solid foundation, is to dig into your analytics package and really measure guest flows and booking tendencies.

By far, the most common report I look at to show the fungible nature of the booking process with our clients is the conversion path report in Google Analytics.

Viewing this report is truly eye-opening and captures how guests actually interact with your website. Instead of clicking on your website in Google, doing a date search and booking, you’ll instead see the real path they took to convert. For many of our clients, we’ll see that 3-5 interactions with the website is very common. This can reach into 10 or even 20 or more interactions with a website before booking.

Guests browse, leave your website, check prices elsewhere, ask their Mom about the rental and who knows what else before confirming their booking.

Check out the report below.

 

Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 1.59.46 PM

 

For this particular client, guests often book after visiting the website twice. But, a very common conversion path (one that I see constantly with our SEO clients) is the Organic Search > Direct path. This one is usually from ranking high on Google for major keywords, then the guest will browse around, leave the website and consider the rental, then come back later directly to the website and book.

In a normal Google Analytics revenue report, this conversion will show as direct. But, if you think about it, the guest would have never found the website if not for the traffic from Google search. In my mind, the Organic search traffic drove the lead much more than the last-click booking channel (in this case, direct).

As you drill down into this report, you’ll learn a lot about the consideration path that a guest takes before booking. Many guests will visit your website 5 or 6 times before booking. Some will open 7 different promotional emails and then book.

You can dig through this report for hours – and you’ll get a lot of out it. I highly recommend reviewing this report and looking for patterns – do your guests look at dozens of properties before booking? This could be a bad signal as they are not finding what they’re looking for. Is your time on page very low with a high bounce rate? Perhaps your pay per click targeting is off-topic.

This data doesn’t really tell you what to do — but it does provide a framework for allowing you to succeed by letting you dig into the stats that matter.

Step 4: Asking For Feedback

After you’ve analyzed the site the way you think about your website, it’s time to enlist the help of others.

Utilizing feedback tools like Hotjar, we’ve recently been adding surveys and net promoter score surveys (Question: “How likely are you to book with the rental company?”) to our clients websites. The data that we’ve gathered just from people writing in their feedback has been invaluable to learning more about what guests are looking for.

Here are a few responses from a recent poll on a marketing client’s website:

Do you have rentals in Peninsula Hotel?

These properties show the weekly rate. If Im only staying 2 nights, do I just divide the weekly rate by 7 to get the rate per night?

Are there any special rates for students or AAA members?

The safety deposit will be completely refunded if there are no damages, correct?

All of these responses are highly informative – and they tell us a story about what guests are looking for on the website. In these cases, we’ve already added different copy throughout several pages of the site to give the guest more information about the rental polices and procedures.

Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 2.39.01 PM

Step 5: Testing & Measuring Results

Finally, the last step is to evaluate and measure the results of your website marketing efforts. Now you can see how users go through your properties, book rentals, visit the site and what questions they may have.

The next step is to take it to the next level – you can utilize A/B testing on homepage layouts, form copy and more to evaluate the results you’re getting from your website a boost revenue and performance.

And of course, the ultimate goal remains in focus – get more bookings. With the help of InterCoastal Net Designs, you’ll get more bookings, leads and top-notch tools that make your vacation rental business better.

Padre Getaways Redesigns Vacation Rental Website

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 10.18.59 PM

Hello, South Padre Island.

Padre Getaways, based in sunny South Padre Island, TX, recently launched a redesigned website with team ICND. Integrating with RMS, we were able to seamlessly integrate their property management software into our new booking engine platform. Padre has also opted for our LeadTracker software, a critical element to running their leads through a trusted software system that gets more bookings. Before, Padre Getaways offered limited ability to book online, but with their new integration in place, you now can effortlessly book Padre Getaway’s full inventory of vacation rentals. With our SEO team working with the team at Padre Getaways, we’re eager to see amazing results from their organic traffic and pay per click budgets too.

We met up with Padre Getaways at VRMA Annual in San Diego late last year, and we were thrilled to meet their needs on the latest website design. With great new design elements like a new featured property widget on the homepage, an image-heavy design that emphasizes great photography and a conversion centric design, Padre Getaways is looking forward to finishing their summer strong.

Would you like to learn more about our vacation rental website designs? Contact us today to get a free quote on our website designs that’ll get you looking just as good as Padre Getaways.

Vantage Resort Realty Launches New Vacation Rental Website

InterCoastal Net Designs (ICND) is excited to announce the launch of our newest vacation rental website, Vantage Resort Realty.

Vantage Resort Realty is located in Ocean City, Maryland and prides themselves on their relationships with homeowners and guests alike. Building a new website with ICND will help their guests be able to book properties with ease, and in turn satisfy their homeowners with more bookings.

Continue reading “Vantage Resort Realty Launches New Vacation Rental Website”

VRMA 2014 Recap Blog

VRMA Annual was held in San Diego this year from October 26th-29th. The ICND team was there in full force, with SEO Director Conrad O’Connell, Social Media Director David Hutnik and ICND President Brandon Sauls taking the 6,000 plus mile round trip journey to VRMA.

During the conference, we were demoing our newest, latest greatest booking engine integration featured in our most recent vacation rental website launch. We heard from tons of attendees that the features built into were “downright amazing”, “truly innovative”, and even “F*!^ing AWESOME!”.  More brainstorming sessions and early morning programming went on to continue developing this so if you haven’t had the chance to check it out, let us know and we’d be glad to show you.

Continue reading “VRMA 2014 Recap Blog”

VRMA 2014 Annual Conference

vrma2014-icnd-booth

The InterCoastal Net Designs team is excited to be traveling to San Diego, CA for the Vacation Rental Managers Association Conference (VRMA) October 26th – 29th.

For the 4th conference in a row, the ICND team was selected to speak on marketing and web design for this industry.  We are proud to have this opportunity once again and to present two great sessions at VRMA 2014:

“Elements Of A Perfect Vacation Rental Website”
Monday, Oct. 27  |  11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

“Your Complete 2015 Online Marketing Strategy Guide”
Wednesday, Oct. 29th  |  10:40 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

If you’ll miss the conference, we will have the presentations and handouts available for download after each presentation here.

 

We’ve also put together a few creative campaigns for this years show!  Take a look how and where you’ll be seeing ICND around the VRMA conference this year.

#1) We’ve sponsored the Tuesday night party.  You’ll see our logo in lights and we’ll be there having a great time!  Will we see you there?

#2) Drinks are on us for our “Beers & Idears”.  We want to learn about struggles in your business and provide free – no committment ideas and action plans to help.  Let us by you a beer or two and chat about different ideas.  See details here.
beers&idearsTshirt

#3) We came up with the idea of creating a “Twitter Wall” in the main lobby area.  We’re providing all of the equipment and setting up this “Twitter & Instagram Wall” that will filter in different tweets and photos using #VRMA2014.

twitterwallpostcard#4) We have a little surprise that you will most certainly see at some point during the conference.  You’ll have to come share with us what you think but we’re making a statement that ICND’s service is #1 – NOT …#2.

#5) We have an even BIGGER surprise to announce at #VRMA2014!  But you’ll have to wait until the event…

#6) A brand new innovative booking engine will be revealed – let us show you how to increase your online conversion rate – you will DEFINITELY want to see this!

Don’t forget to visit us at Booth 224!

Barefoot Technologies Logo Redesign

InterCoastal Net Designs and Barefoot Technologies have been partnering together to help mutual vacation rental clients for many years.  We are both members are the Vacation Rental Managers Association (VRMA) and enjoy working together on projects. Barefoot provides a user friendly Property Management system for vacation rental companies, and ICND uses the API to integrate with a custom designed website for seamless user experience.

Recently Barefoot approached ICND with a project; redesigning their logo and creating a newsletter template for them to utilize in their email marketing campaign. We’re excited to announce their new logo choice below!

Barefoot_logo
ICND’s design team worked with the Barefoot team to capture a more modern look and feel, while sticking to the base of Barefoot Brand.  Now that the logo has been completed, we hope to have a newsletter design soon! We’re excited to work with a member of the VRMA community not only on mutual client projects, but on their internal efforts as well.