Do you manage a guest house, B&B, lodge, boutique hotel or other tourism business and want to get more visitors to click the “Book Now” button on your site? We have put together a list of best practices to make it much more likely that visitors planning a trip will click “Book Now” and make a reservation.

1. Include a “Book Now” button on every page of your tourism website

It is as simple as making the “Book Now” button a fixed part of your website template. Regardless of whether visitors are reading about a package tour, your room amenities, or skimming through your reviews page, the Book Now button will always be visible and clickable.

2. Add a hover image to your booking button for dramatic visual effect

Your “Book Now” button must be attractive to visitors, so choose the best colors, shapes, borders, and shadow effects that compliment your tourism website design. Take it one step further and add a mouse-over image, also called hover or the rollover effect. When the user’s mouse moves over the button, it should light up in such a way as to encourage more clicks. That could mean using a highlight border color, inverting the background color, making the font bolder, or doing combination of the three.

3. Test the “Book Now” button with all web browsers including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari

This tip applies to your entire website but it is especially important for your “Book Now” button to be accessible. Do not let another day pass without testing your tourism website to make absolutely sure that the reservation request web forms are properly programmed. Clicking the “Book Now” button should lead to your booking information page, a booking enquiry page, or to the booking engine (third party reservation hosted web service) site.

Go one step further and test your tourism site with the most common smart phones such as Android and iPhone in addition to the latest tablet computers such as Kindle and iPad devices. When a visitor tries to make a booking and fails because their browser is not compatible with your booking system (e.g. your booking button or reservation form is Flash® based), they are not likely to change devices or browsers and try again as the trust has been lost.

4. Make sure your image Book Now button has alternative text (alt text attribute) for travel SEO benefits

Pictures make the website especially when selling unique travel experiences, but there still many cases when an image does not render on a visitors web browser. They may be using a bandwidth limited cell phone or even have images turned off for privacy reasons. Alt text (more accurately called the “alt” attribute) was defined by the HTML standards body primarily for visually impaired visitors. However it is also essential for other scenarios like when an important image cannot be loaded for any reason.

The alt text will be displayed in place of the image. In the case of a “Book Now” button, the text will be displayed in a box as a placeholder so that there is no way a visitor can miss it.

5. Use a tooltip to inform visitors that travel bookings are secure

By utilizing a pictorial “Book Now” button you can include not just alt text, but also cause a tooltip to appear when the user positions their mouse over the button. Most all browsers will render the title attribute (e.g. Book) of image tags as tooltips, so be sure to include booking contextual information. You can also use the title attribute on hyperlinks, but they are most common and supported (and expected) with pictures.

Take advantage of this opportunity to state the reason or purpose of clicking the “Book Now” button. You can also highlight a key aspect of your reputation, trust, or security. For example mentioning that “all bookings are secure” is a simple way to promote the security of your booking process. Alternatively you can remind visitors of a direct booking best price guarantee or that a sale is in progress. The use of a tooltip is one more way to push visitors to feel motivated to click the “Book Now” button.

6. Display or link to booking cancellation information so visitors can read it first

For independent tourism businesses, promoting trust is essential to convince more visitors to start down the path of making a booking. While they may like what they read about your place to stay, vacation package, local attraction, or guided tour, they still need to be reminded that you are a trustworthy tourism business and operator. Clicking the “Book Now” button can be a major step for many visitors that are mostly convinced, but require additional assurance that their booking will be safe.

Including a prominent link to your booking cancellation policy page is one more way to put visitors’ minds at ease by putting trust front and center. It is recommended that you open the link in a new browser window (tab) as opposed to a popup since popups may be blocked by the browser or be less mobile device friendly. A new window also means that the visitor can return to exactly where they left off, and click the “Book Now” button when they are ready.

7. Include a link to the Contact Page in case visitors want to ask a question before making a travel booking decision

For the same reason that you want to link to the booking cancellation policy page, you also want to include a visible link to your “Contact Us” page. Why? Well some customers will never feel comfortable going from reading about your travel products for perhaps the first time to making a booking via an electronic (impersonal) reservation system. They will want to get in touch first to get their questions answered and more importantly, to gain trust in your business by engaging in person-to-person communication.

Whether a traveler wants to send you a booking related message or not, making your contact us link easily accessible serves to remind visitors that your reservations team can be easily and reliably contacted. The “Contact Us” page should allow any visitor to send you a quick email (or talk by phone or chat) about trip itineraries, availability, special needs, or booking security, and expect a response within a day or two. Be sure to list office hours and response time expectations on this page, especially if the booking agent responsible happens to be out on a tour.

8. Include actual customer testimonials on the tour or lodging information page

Testimonials are quotes from customers that have had a positive experience of your travel services and want to share it with the world. Like reviews on TripAdvisor, they have to be from actual customers and be honest and in their own words.

To improve the trustworthiness of travel consumer testimonials, include a thumbnail sized photo of the customer. When it is not possible or appropriate, always include their first name and city, state or province (where applicable) and the country where they live. You will be protecting their online privacy while making it clear that past customer testimonials are from real customers.

By adding 2 or 3 testimonials adjacent to the “Book Now” button (perhaps in a slideshow type presentation), you are giving potential customers one more piece of validation as to why booking right now is a good idea.