How many vacation rental companies have mapped out their guest’s experiences from the “search” start? How many of them put themselves in their guest’s shoes and take a long, hard look at their website, on desktop and mobile?
With 50% of website traffic coming from a mobile device, and likely first-time users are higher than that, it’s critical to make sure the visuals and navigation are optimized for this experience.
In Google Analytics, which is where most of this data is accessed, visitors to a website are called users and their visit is called a session. How quickly users leave their session is called a bounce. If users leave their session quickly, that’s bad. That’s a high bounce rate. You want users to stay and look around for awhile. Longer session durations lead to conversions and conversions are bookings. And bookings are revenue.
Great visuals in a great user experience will attract new users, increase their total number of sessions and keep them from bouncing.
Here are three visuals for vacation rental companies to check on the mobile version of their websites.
High Quality Photography That’s Easy to See
Some property managers spend a huge part of their marketing budget on photography and then don’t check the mobile version to see that it’s not showing the whole image. Users should be able to see the exteriors and interiors quickly and easily. These are the photographs that will sell them on the property. Looking at these photographs should inspire them to look for additional information on the property page.
Property Layout That’s Easy to Navigate
This is a new era in vacation rental history. Photography along is no longer enough. Thanks to the pandemic and the evolution of virtual tour technology, guests want to see the layout of the property. This detail is increasingly important as the duration of stays become longer and the type of experience the guest is looking to have becomes more diverse. Short-term stays are now working stays, learning stays, and not just vacation stays. When multiple generations use these trips as the only time they might see each other in person, it’s so helpful to know how far the bathrooms are from the pool, or how close the Wi-Fi router is to a desk. Is all of this information easy to navigate to on a mobile device? It should be. Competitors in top beach and mountain markets working with TruPlace already have many of these features in place.
What’s Around the Property?
Since guests won’t spend their entire time on the property they are renting, they will want to quickly and easily find out what else is nearby. If this is hard to do on the mobile version of a vacation rental website, the user is likely to bounce at this point. Some property managers have figured out how to use photographs to tell a story, provide more information, and keep users on their property pages longer. For example, one company in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, added photos of bikes being stored in a closet on the ground floor of the property to their floor plan tour. This showed the guests where they could locate the bikes when they arrived. At the end of the photo carousel showing the property were photos showing local bike paths right outside the house, and a bike rack near shops where they could store bikes while getting lunch and shopping.
If the user has a good experience visually with all three of these areas, Google Analytics is likely to show a desktop session from the same user a short time later. That’s when the rates and calendar of availability will be important. But if the user never makes it past the virtual tour because it’s not displaying correctly, they’re a lot less likely to stay on the property and book.
The reality is the most guests browse on a mobile device and book on a desktop – for now. Vacation rental companies should make sure their visuals are not only optimized for desktop, but for iPads and iPhones as well. A good user experience on the website won’t just lead to lower bounce rates, it will also lead to repeat bookings.