If you run a business that uses booking software, your revenue depends on how well that software functions. Not all booking software is created equal, though. Some software has inherent flaws that complicate the booking process and can lead to abandoned carts and lost bookings.
Whether your visitors are booking flights, hotels, car rentals, or hair appointments, they deserve a swift user experience that gives them a hassle-free booking experience. If you see abandoned carts and incomplete registrations, here are 4 reasons your booking software might be undermining your sales:
1. Your Booking Software Isn’t Programmed for Mobile Use
With modern trends in web design, it is easy to get lost in a sea of terminology that makes you feel like you are covered. For instance, the terms “mobile-friendly” and “responsive design” are often used interchangeably, but they are not synonymous.
If your booking software boasts a “responsive design,” that doesn’t make it automatically mobile-friendly. According to the Nielson Norman Research Group, responsive web design is an approach that “creates dynamic changes to the appearance of a website, depending on the screen size and orientation of the device being used to view it. RWD is one approach to the problem of designing for the multitude of devices available to customers, ranging from tiny phones to huge desktop monitors.”
It is important for a website’s layout to adapt to the user’s screen size and orientation. However, that is only half the equation. The other half is the user experience.
Mobile-friendly Isn’t Synonymous With Usability
The majority of the population now uses mobile devices more often than their laptops and desktops combined. Your booking software needs to be more than friendly for mobile users – the user experience (UX) needs to have high usability.
In a Fuel podcast titled Your Booking Engine May Be Losing You Millions In Mobile Revenue, they discuss the hard data about the critical role a mobile-first booking engine plays in a business’ bottom line. The data proves that switching to a mobile-first booking software has a direct impact on revenue. One client achieved 240 more bookings in a month and a half, amounting to an increase in revenue of $115,000.
Usability is the Biggest Piece of the Pie
The Nielsen Norman Group explains what constitutes a good user experience, “In order to achieve high-quality user experience… there must be a seamless merging of the services of multiple disciplines, including engineering, marketing, graphical and industrial design, and interface design.”
Usability is defined by:
- How easy the software is to use.
- How fast the user can achieve specific goals (check availability, complete a booking, compare rates, view features, etc.).
- How easy it is for the user to remember how to use the software.
- How pleasant the experience is of using the software.
Usability is everything. You could have the coolest looking software in the world, but if it is hard to use you will always struggle to get bookings.
2. Your Search Widget is Buried for Your Mobile Users
There is a debate about whether mobile users prefer to use site navigation or the search function. Independent research backs up both possibilities. Some research says users prefer using navigation. Other research says mobile users opt for the search bar first. These opposing results aren’t flawed; they are just incomplete.
A user’s preference for using navigation versus search varies depending on the type of website they are using and their personal preference. Unfortunately, personal preferences around avoiding the search function have been shaped by the inadequate nature of search itself.
When a search function doesn’t produce expected results with the first search, some users can find what they are looking for faster by filtering according to categories. Filtering by categories isn’t necessarily more effective than searching by keyword. However, people have developed the habit of filtering by category because they don’t expect the search function to work.
Your booking software needs a search function as well as strong category filters to accommodate the preferences and habits of multiple people. For a great example of strong category filters, check out Yocale’s booking website. Once you search for the type of service you are looking for, you can sort the results according to rating, reviews, distance, and even differentiate between businesses and individuals.
Categories should be chosen based on what is important to your visitors.
3. You Have Hot Pop-ups on Your Pages
Pop-ups can distract guests from booking. If they appear on a timer, it is even worse. The only appropriate pop-up is an exit pop-up that offers a discount for completing the booking.
Exit pop-ups are not foolproof, though. They are triggered when the user moves their mouse to the top of the browser bar. You may find yourself extending discounts to people who weren’t exiting your site, but were viewing other tabs like Facebook or their email.
Even Relevant Pop-ups Are Despised
Pop-ups have been proven to be one of the most hated advertising techniques on both desktop and mobile. According to this study by Nielsen and Norman, modal ads (which include pop-ups) are the most hated ads of all. On a scale of 1-7, 7 being the most disliked, pop-ups were rated highest with a score of 5.82.
It should be no surprise that pop-ups are more despised on mobile devices than they are on desktops, though not by much. Pop-ups on mobile devices scored 5.94. The group believes this is likely due to two reasons. Ads take up nearly the whole screen on mobile devices, and people are usually busy; having to click out of an ad the size of your whole screen is frustrating. Assuming you can click out of the ad; sometimes mobile users cannot click out of it.
Pop-ups are Considered an Unwanted Intrusion
Using pop-ups on your booking site is a guaranteed distraction. You might close the deal once, but your users will remember the pop-up battle they had to endure. In this way, pop-ups can damage your brand by creating a poor user experience.
This study performed by Bunnyfoot found that 50% of pop-ups were closed before the ad finished loading, and 35% were ignored. During their study, they found something else interesting about why pop-ups annoy people.
Users reported that pop-up ads insult their intelligence and suggest they can’t find what they’re looking for on their own. Others reported feeling imposed upon because they can’t click out of the ad without taking some kind of action they don’t want to take.
4. Your Booking Software Offers Different Features for Mobile
Your visitors should be able to do everything on a mobile site that they can do on the desktop version. There is no reason to eliminate features for mobile users. If your booking software features are not compatible with mobile devices, it is time to upgrade your booking software. Boosting usability will undoubtedly lead to increased revenue from bookings.
Tips for choosing booking software
- Easy to learn and use. When selecting your booking software, make sure it is easy to use. If you have to spend a long time learning how to use it, you will be less likely to stick with it. The software you choose should be easy for your whole staff to use. Eventually, you will need to enlist the help of others.
The software should also be extremely easy for website users. They should be able to check availability, book, and pay seamlessly. One way to create a seamless experience for your users is to get your business approved as a partner with Google Reserve.
- Scalability. Choosing software that will grow with your business is important. If you hire new staff who need to manage clients through their own account, you will need the flexibility to add more users. Sometimes appointment-based software limits the number of admins you can add.
- Choose the cloud. Using software that runs in the cloud means you will have access to your appointments from anywhere.
- Research first. Do a Google search to find out what people love and hate about the software you are considering. What roadblocks have people encountered that can’t be changed? What flaws and bugs have been discovered, and have they been resolved by the company? No software is perfect, but you want software created by a company that fixes bugs and responds to customer requests.
Don’t Buy Booking Software Blindly
Most software companies will schedule a demo session with you prior to your purchase, but sometimes the demo isn’t enough. Some flaws won’t be made known until you have had real customers process a payment or attempt to reschedule. For this reason, it is wise to come to the demo session prepared to test as many actions as possible as both the customer and the admin.
Take your time thoroughly exploring as many different pieces of software as possible. Capterra is a great source for narrowing down your potential options. Remember, your visitors will experience your booking process as an extension of the services you are providing. Your booking process just might be their first impression of your business, so make it good!