Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Forget Website Conversions; Your Guests Are Completing Tasks

Conversion(s) don’t exist. There are no such things. Hotels and those in hospitality should stop focusing on them. Stop marketing your website and focus on the delivery of tasks.

Let me explain;

People convert from one religion to another, from meat eater to vegetarian. People don’t convert on a website.

Nobody comes to your site to thinking they want to buy a banana and end up booking a hotel room.

They come to your site for a need; a specific need. This need may be research or buy based — but they have a need of your service, expertise etc.

They may have come to your site via a search, a link, a social media tweet/like. But they know why they are on your site — they have a need and they know what that need is.

They may have used a metasearch tool to access your site. They may have viewed an OTA site. But, they already know you, they know what people think about you, they know your price points.

They’ve done their research on you by not looking at you.

So why would your own website confuse users by providing such information again? You should already be managing user perception on open platforms such as TripAdvisor.

Users are not coming to your site to immediately ‘convert’. They are not going to view your hotel, check the rooms, the restaurant menu, the grounds etc. and then book a room in one visit.

But this misapprehension is what most sites are designed around – single visit ‘conversion’.

I argue that your own website should be task based – focused on the completion of any one of a number of specific tasks.

These tasks could be;

  • To check a price.
  • Book a room.
  • Locate the hotel(s)

Build on this task based premise;

Users are subtle in their use of the web. The web no longer demands their full attention or interrupts their day. The web fits around them. It fits around them whilst they are completing other tasks. When they are cooking, travelling, watching a video, exercising.

Users no longer have to go over to a PC to access the web – the web comes to them. This results in users accessing the web for longer, but in short, task based bursts.

When considering a stay some tasks may be;

  • Receive guidance and recommendations from friends offline.
  • Check TripAdvisor – on a tablet.
  • Reviewing for potential hotels and prices – on a phone whilst eating lunch.
  • Check TripAdvisor for specific hotel rankings – on a phone on the way home.
  • Check Expedia, Google for other hotels, locations – on a laptop whilst watching TV.

None of the tasks above are anything new. What is new is the devices they are using and the time they are spending completing the task.

It is also naive of us to think that users are only completing these tasks at any one time – they are not. They are flicking between three or fours different streams of the web. Your website should recognise and accommodate this behaviour.

Did you notice that none of the stay tasks were on your website? Users gain their information and knowledge to inform their ‘buy’ decision from other sources. Your marketing channels are further away from you as an organisation.

What is close to you is the completion of specific tasks.

  • Users may come to your site and check a price.

They go away and research another price.

  • They come back and book a stay.

We currently bombard users with snippets of ‘related information’. We structure sites Information Architecture around conversion points and goals. We ignore the fact that they drift on and off and back onto our sites again. That they change their task based need of our website every time they visit.

So, why bombard users with ‘fluff’, with distraction and noise focused on conversion? Why not provide access to tasks that are easy to complete?

It is a challenge. It is one that requires a brave new way of thinking and a wider view of the user. It is also one that will benefit yourself and turn users into customers.

Dave McRobbie
Dave McRobbie
Dave McRobbie is digital strategist, working with digital agencies and direct clients to help them better understand how they can meet ever changing customer demands and expectations. He has worked within media, fintech, digital and public sectors and has led programmes as diverse as the creation of specialised social care services for the government and the NHS, through to the design and build of hotel booking engines. Currently working on several different projects including a new digital product launch, he tries to ignore the delivery mechanism and focus on the service a human receives but he is easily distracted by new music and old wine. He speaks at a number of industry events and can be found on Linkedin, Medium and Twitter (@davemcrob).

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