Is your website “driving” customers away?

freetobook gramaphoneDriving home for two and half hours after a great wedding party is not my idea of fun! So why did we do it?

This summer my wife and I attended a wedding in the lovely old town of St Andrews (Scotland). My wife does most of the social organising (no surprises there!) and so she set about looking for somewhere to stay. We just needed a comfortable place and were looking forward to a break away…from the kids.

It was a busy time as there were university graduations taking place. Most hotels were showing fully booked and when she came across a website that featured many of the B&B’s and guesthouses in the area she thought she’d found the answer. However, after about 30 minutes of searching through the website she stormed in and declared we would just drive back that night!

Why? The website offered a list of properties with links but the websites she visited did not offer their availability online. She wasn’t prepared to send out emails, make calls or submit requests….so we drove home that night, getting in at 2:00am.

It wasn’t that she doesn’t like talking to people, she does (I can vouch for that!), but to her the cost in time of “manually” searching for accommodation was greater than the inconvenience of a two and half hour drive across Scotland in the wee hours of the morning! That’s quite a sacrifice, but if you are already conditioned to buy something in a certain way, the frustration and reluctance to change your ways is enough to make you question whether or not it is worth it.

In the end everyone lost out. We missed the end of the wedding party and a night away and the B&Bs lost a booking … not an ideal outcome. It’s a graphic example of how people’s habits have changed online: they expect instant answers, full access to the information required to make a purchasing decision and then to be able to complete the purchase.

A much more common scenario is that you lose bookings when customers visit your website, can’t see availability and rates and therefore just move on to the next.