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Booking

Optimising your coach hire website to increase bookings

Streamlining booking through your coach hire website

By | Booking, Coach hire, Sygnal Bites | No Comments

Your coach hire website is often the first port of call for new customers. It’s essential you make a powerful first impression and, above all, make the booking process as simple as possible.

Chartered bus journeys still lag behind other transport modes in terms of booking technology. As a coach hire operator, any improvements you make to the booking process will put you ahead of the competition.

Site layout

When it comes to your website, keeping it attractive and on-brand is a base requirement. You’ve also got to make it as simple to navigate as possible. After all, visitors are there for a reason – to see if you’re the right transport operator for them.

Think about how you engage with similar systems – when do you want information presented to you, and in what format? How many steps does it take for a potential customer to get from first clicking on your site to buy a ticket? Bear in mind that every step in the process increases the risk a visitor will go elsewhere.

Feature your call to action (CTA) buttons clearly throughout the website. If a visitor is in a rush to book, they could click out and look to another operator if they don’t see a link to your booking immediately. Likewise, a progress bar is a good way of breaking down the booking process into manageable steps and keeping visitors on-site.

Above all else – build a site that works for your customer base. This means regularly updating your site according to what works. Check your Google Analytics for bounce rates, click-throughs and conversions. For customers, booking coach transport online often requires complex coordination with multiple parties. The simpler a task you can make it, the more likely they are to book again.

Woman using smartphone airline app to book flights

Payment

Providing intuitive payment is integral to the online bookings process. Visitors to your site want to place payments quickly and securely. Customers should immediately receive a confirmation of purchase email along with all relevant details regarding the trip.

It’s vital you use an established, trusted payment platform for all bookings. The more options for payment you include, the more likely a visitor to your site will book with you. Most transport companies now include an option to pay through a trusted online payment platform like Paypal, alongside options for card payment or using cash on the day.

As with all online payment processes, the most important element is security. Assure visitors their payments are managed through a secure payment platform. The secure approach won’t streamline bookings, but it will increase the likelihood that visitors book with you again.

Mobile

OK, it’s 2018 – you really have no excuse for having a site not optimised for mobile. After all, 85% of travellers use mobile devices to book travel activities, while 66% prefer to use their smartphones, rather than their desktops, for travel research.

When it comes to booking tickets online, however, travellers are often wary of completing transactions through their mobile. Only 30% are made on mobile devices, although this figure is increasing at a rate of 1% per quarter. A key reason for the reticence of visitors to book through mobile is the difficulty in entering details into a mobile device. Transport companies can overcome this through direct booking portals – taking the customer direct to the booking page in one click.

Additionally, a mobile app can have a dramatic impact on sales. While coach bookings are still higher from a mobile browser than an app, figures suggest if the service is used regularly, an app can lead to an uptick in bookings. The popularity of the mobile app for coach hire bookings is down, in large part, to the single-entry format for details. Saving payment and passenger details for future bookings spares visitors the rigmarole of typing out the same information each time.

Using your mobile smartphone device on public transport

Tickets

In 2018, passengers expect you to have some kind of mobile ticketing system in place. If your coach transport doesn’t yet have any kind of mTicketing hardware onboard, implementing an email coding system can work. It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that these onboard checks take up valuable time and aren’t 100% reliable.

Likewise, trusting passengers to print their own tickets from an email, featuring either a numerical or QR code, relies on passengers remembering their print-off. As any coach operator will tell you, there are inevitably forgotten or mislaid tickets, leading to delays and unsatisfied customers.

Similarly, it’s important to understand your customer base. If the majority of your trips involve tours for over-65s, a mobile-only ticketing system is more likely to cause issues than tours intended for the 18-30 market.

Personalisation

Personalisation is key to providing a streamlined service in transport. A personalised response not only lets a return visitor know you recognise them, but it can also simplify bookings and give you a better understanding of their behaviour and booking habits. Personalisation software can even go so far as to suggest relevant offers to returning travellers. This allows you to flag-up additional features requested in their last booking and creates more opportunities for up-selling.

Personalisation is all about understanding your customer – which means more than simply as a customer. From where do they usually log-on?? What device do they typically use to browse your site? Discovering the preferences of your visitors allows you to cater your approach and develop a clearer understanding of how to engage with them in future interactions.

Increasing accessibility on your coach service

There are a number of solutions to improve the booking experience on your coach hire website. Every solution comes with its own unique opportunities and challenges. It’s only through studying your passengers, routes and business model that you find the best solutions to streamline the booking process and encourage return custom.