Conversions, closes, reservations, bookings. Those are the ultimate goals of any online content, but people often don't make a move until they are told what to do next.
The call to action (CTA) should be the motivational nudge visitors need to do what they really want. Some give visitors permission to follow their hearts while others offer definitive directions. In travel and tourism, attaching CTAs to visuals is a proven way to increase your conversion rate.
Come along on a tour of some of the most effective and unique CTAs in travel and tourism, from DMOs, resorts to hotel chains to tour operators.
DMO CTAs for Galleries
User Generated Content (UGC) can be one of the most authentic and cost-effective ways to show how real traveler experiences a destination. When it comes to CTAs though, the most common one is none at all. Our research shows that about 50% of social media aggregators on DMO websites are just visuals with no CTA.
For the sites that do use CTAs, the largest percentage (25%) send viewers to social media accounts to Like or Follow. A soft CTA, requests that ask for less commitment from the visitor such as newsletter download, is favored by 15% of UGC galleries. Soft CTAs encourage visitors only to gain more information and higher up in the marketing funnel.
The best examples of soft CTAs come from Visit Bothell and Visit Louisiana. The Bothell DMO used the neutral "Visit This Location" CTA to deliver discounts and special offers in the area. Visit Louisiana used neutral text overlayed on top of partner images to specify hours, address or website info.
DMO CTAs on Facebook Ads
The overwhelming favorite CTA for DMO ads on Facebook was to send visitors to the website, with 80.5% following this plan.
Some specific CTAs by Visit Mississippi helped created a sense of place, especially, "Come See What We're About Down South." Another "Don't Miss Out" cleverly played on the state name and the millennial customer's FOMO (fear of missing out).
Travel Alaska opted to keep visitors on Facebook with a CTA designed to expand their social presence, "Follow our page for more Alaska Inspiration - you'll be planning your trip in no time!"
Resort and Hotel CTAs on Websites
Only 29% of hotels and resorts studied are using UGC galleries on their websites. Smart travel marketers are getting ahead of the competition using this powerful channel along with inspiring CTAs to drive closes. Overall, marketers are using no CTA at all or a soft CTA just making visitors aware of what's available, but not directly encouraging them to convert.
Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Island hotel urged visitors to “Explore Cabot Cliffs" in the surrounding area. And Toronto's luxury property Hotel X prompted visitors to “Learn More About Falcon SkyBar”.
Hotel and Resort CTAs in Facebook Ads
In Facebook ads, almost half (49%) of hotel and resort CTAs drive viewers to the websites. The next most popular option is to promote special sales and deals, which cover 40% of Facebook CTAs for the hospitality sector.
Sundance Resort has had great success with the single focus images and simple CTAs, such as "Shop Now," highlighting the resort's retail business. In contrast, the "Arizona Biltmore" chose the more direct "Book Now" for viewers wanting to secure a special offer.
Tour Operator CTAs on Their Websites
Tour operators have more CTAs on their images compared to DMOs (60% compared to 40%), and they usually send site visitors to the direct bookings page.
Active Adventures, a global hiking and adventure tour company, calls our specific offerings in CTAs like “View our Annapurna trip!” or “View our Bolivia trip”. This brings the visitor to a page of tour information where they can gain more info or book right there. The Napa Valley Wine Train highlighted personalization with the CTA "Find the tour that is right for you."
Tour Operator CTAs in Facebook Ads
While 51% of Facebook ads for tour operators drive traffic to the website, a large percentage registered as "Other," which includes downloads for guides and destination-specific info.
G Adventures, which books group tours, found they excelled at generating traffic from sales and deals, using text overlay CTAs like "Last-Minute Travel Now On Sale," and "Book by July 31."
The unusual nature of an experience like renting an exotic race car means that Xtreme Xperience must do more work upfront to explain the concept to wary customers. Their CTAs are direct and informational, like "Get a Quote" or "Drive Supercars on a Race Track!"
How to Improve Your Calls to Action
CTAs are your last, best chance to convert the viewer into a customer, so it pays to spend the lion's share of your time on testing and discovering what works. WordStream, a Google partner, reported that action verbs like "Get" and "Try" outperform boring terms like "Enter" or "Submit."
Use bright colors and unusual shapes to draw the viewer's attention, but be careful not to be too jarring. It should stand out without being distracting. Personalize and customize, meaning use words like "my" and refer to specific tours when possible. Finally, use words that convey urgency, like "Now" or a given end date.
No one has yet perfected the perfect CTA, so this is an area where you can excel just by knowing your audience. In every sense, it's your call.
Image credit: @Nadi Whatisdelirium