Hotels – How to Use Urgency to Increase Website Conversion

Urgency in Conversion Rate Optimisation

Urgency is a widely employed conversion tactic in eCommerce and yet, on the whole, seemingly underutilised in hospitality. The potential to create urgency and thus reduce time-to-book, increase booking lead times and reduce the propensity for guests to shop around, should catch the eye of any astute hotelier.

What do we mean by creating urgency? Simply put, providing information to the guest so that they understand there is a need to book sooner. Be it a limited time offer or limited room availability; empowering the guest with this knowledge can often encourage them to book now rather than later. That empowerment is key; help a guest understand the popularity of your properties and offers, along with the benefits to them of booking sooner. Avoid using false-urgency as a crude sales tactic.

So how are some OTA’s and hotels currently employing urgency as a conversion aid? Unsurprisingly, the OTA’s are arguably leading the way., Expedia and are 3 excellent examples; impress the urgency of booking quickly during the hotel search process very clearly. Upon reaching hotel listings, various indicators of availability and interest levels are in place to encourage visitors to book quickly, along with a clear call to action of ‘Book now’.

Expedia’s hotel search results highlight a time dependent ‘Daily Deal’ along with a timer whilst also making use of a trade marked creative message of ‘A Sudden Amazing Price’ to imply rarity and impulse. Further down the listings they also ask guests to ‘Hurry!’ as an offer ends in less than 24 hours.

Once a hotel is selected, further messages of urgency pop up to encourage you to book quickly. take a similar approach, with various urgency messages ‘popping up’ during the booking process.

Further into the booking process you’re reminded that offers are limited and that you should ‘book this hot deal now’;

Hotels using urgency

From a scan of some of the larger chains and prominent independent hotels (here in the UK) very few appear to be using urgency significantly within their websites or booking engines.

Some notable examples include PH Hotels (a UK chain with 23 properties) who highlight the number of rooms remaining during their booking process.

Travelodge make good use of email marketing to create advance demand and urgency to book their discounted room sales. Their website also references ‘last chances’ to obtain offers. Hoxton Hotels also create such advance demand and urgency to book for their £1 room sale that it often sells out within minutes.

Some ideas of how you can use urgency to increase website conversion

  1. Availability messaging – Advise your guests how many rooms remain at a discounted price and vary this messaging as the number decreases. For example; “10 rooms remaining at £X” followed by “Hurry! Just 5 Rooms left at £X” and finally “Last 2 Rooms at £X, be quick!”.
  2. Advise guests of your popularity – Let guests understand how popular your properties/offers are by adding a ‘X people are viewing this hotel/offer’  or ‘X people have booked this hotel/offer in the last 24 hours’ message to your website.
  3. Countdowns on offers – add a countdown timer to offer pages to remind guests that your offers are time dependent and they must book before the counter reaches zero to benefit.
  4. Countdown to sales – use all digital marketing channels available to you (social, email, your website etc) to pre-announce a countdown to an upcoming sale. Create awareness and demand before the sale even hits then urgency once the sale goes live.
  5. Adjust your terminology – Ensure guests understand that your rates fluctuate with availability by adapting your terminology. For example, try using ‘Today’s Best Rate…’ instead of ‘Rooms from…’ Experiment with different terminology and evaluate it’s impact on conversion.
  6. Offer gentle reminders – Should a guest start your booking process but not complete, consider sending a booking abandonment email after a couple of hours to enquire if they had any problems booking. Within this, offer a reminder than the rate they were considering is subject to change with availability.
  7. Follow up with the unlucky ones – Have your guests missed out on a flash sale? Offer an opportunity to get advance notice of the next sale you run as a way of placating them, whilst also reminding of the necessity to be quick next time. This can be as simple asking them to sign-up to an email marketing list for future offers.

To conclude…

The Oxford English dictionary defines urgency as “importance requiring swift action”. Perceived urgency encourages us to act quickly; in short it’s about less thinking and more doing. Our role as marketers should be to create that urgency, but not to the disadvantage or detriment of our guests. Don’t create false urgency; your guests aren’t fools and could see this as a manipulative sales tactic.

Simply provide the information they need with which to make a purchasing decision in a tone that highlights the advantages of booking sooner and see if it positively impacts your conversion.

Know of any hotels that are using urgency well? Please share in the comments below.

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  • Travel Tripper

    Sam, I think this is a great post. Hotels have too long been on the back foot against the OTAs when it comes to selling and merchandising. Instead of settling for solutions from technology providers they should seek out more progressive companies which rethink the booking flow, merchandise well and also employ the strategies you’ve written about. Little surprise that I follow this with a plug of my own company, Travel Tripper. Our RezTrip platform does all this and more. 🙂

    • Sam Weston

      Looks like a great product! Anything that helps empower the hotelier is a good thing.

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