11 ways to optimize your website and booking flow to increase bookings and sales

From enhancing your offer to keeping potential customers on your site, here’s a quick guide to optimize your booking flow.
Reading Time: 53 minute 24 seconds

Your website has one job, which is to convert visitors into bookers. 

The basics of a great operator website includes succinct product descriptions, real images — not stock photos — and videos of your experiences, customer reviews and an online booking and payment system. 

In this post, I’ll share tips on how to optimise your website for better conversions, and then share tried and true strategies to improve your booking and checkout flow. 

Let’s get started. 

What are website conversions and why do they matter?

The journey that a visitor goes through to become a booked customer is rarely a straightforward one. It’s rare that someone would book a tour as soon as they reach your website. 

Often, they browse through a few pages, perhaps sign up for a newsletter or download a guide to your destination. These are different ways you can quickly offer value to your site visitor while also establishing your brand’s authority in the destination.

At each step of the customer journey, whether that’s signing up for a newsletter or making a booking, it’s good practice to measure the conversion rate of each point of action. Otherwise, it’s hard to tell what’s working and what isn’t.

For example, your boat tour booking page gets 100 visitors and 20 of them book a tour in that same session, your conversion rate for that page is 20%. 

If you’re offering a free downloadable guide around the lake where you operate your boat tours, you want to measure the conversion rate of that download button or the pop-up that tells visitors about the guide.

Conversion rate optimisation, therefore, is the systematic way of getting website visitors to take the “next right step”, whether that’s signing up for a newsletter, downloading a guide, or booking a tour with you.

Optimize your website for more conversions and bookings

To improve your website’s performance, we’ll optimize key website pages so that more website visitors take that next right step — bringing them closer to making a booking. 

According to Widerfunnel, there are six factors that drive website conversion. We’ll run through each component and I’ll offer suggestions on how this can be adapted for tours and activity operators. 

conversion optimization framework

1. Value proposition

What are you offering website visitors and what are the overall costs and benefits of taking action?

If you want to build your mailing list and are offering a free guide to your destination in exchange for an email address, is it clear that the information offered in your guide is worth the trouble of filling out a quick form?  

If you want to improve the conversion rates on your booking pages, what value are you offering websites visitors who book a trip with you? Is this value highlighted on your booking page? 

Here’s some additional information you can add to your booking pages: 

  • Itinerary for the tour or activity — make sure to mention the highlights
  • Inclusions and exclusions — what’s included and excluded from the booking price
  • Introduce your guides and make it personal
  • Social proof — add customer photos and customer reviews to give users a glimpse into the experience you offer 
  • Mention available add-ons (more on this in a little bit)

 Here’s an example of how SANDEMANs NEW Europe shows off their tours:

Once you’ve nailed down your value proposition for each tour or activity, it’s time to go back to your website and edit your webpages to improve relevance and clarity, reduce anxiety and distraction, and drum up urgency to book a tour now.  

2. Relevance

You need to understand your target audience and what matters to them before you begin to improve the relevance of your content.

Going back to the example of boat tours, if you target young families, your content should also include health and safety measures for children or fun (and safe!) water activities for the family. It should not include imagery or content about a romantic getaway or an adrenaline-filled adventure. 

So, when we edit website content for relevance, we should ask ourselves: 

  • Does the content on this page relate to the value proposition?
  • Will my target audience find this content relatable? 
  • Am I displaying content that visitors expect to see? 

3. Clarity

Is your value proposition clear on this page and have you clearly outlined your call-to-action (CTA) or the next right step? 

When editing for clarity, we should look at both the content and design of a website page.

For content, are you making it clear in writing what the next step should be? If it’s to sign up for a newsletter, try something as simple as: “Want more adventure stories? Sign up for our newsletter.”

If you’re trying to get more people to book a tour with you, adding: “Book your next adventure now,” could be a good first step. This could be added to the body of your text, or above or next to your CTA button to complement it. 

In terms of page design, are your CTAs clearly displayed on your page? Here are some basics to follow:

  • Place your CTA above the fold (that’s the part of the page that is visible before users scroll down)
  • Does the text on your CTA tell users what happens if users click on it? For example, if you want someone to sign up for a newsletter, the CTA button should say: “Sign up,” or: “Join newsletter list.” Similarly, the text on a CTA button that kick starts your booking process should say: “Book now,” or: “Save your spot.” 
  • Does your CTA button stand out? Using contrasting colours in your CTA draws the attention of website visitors which helps to highlight the next right step.

For more in-depth writing and examples about designing the best CTA for your website, check out this blog post

4. Anxiety

Are there elements on your page that create uncertainty or doubt in your customers’ minds? Perhaps some information is missing and you get a lot of messages about it? This is especially important to consider if you offer adventure or outdoor experiences that require additional health and safety measures.

In his webinar, Tim Warren talked about defining / credibility statements, which are statements that communicate experience, quality, safety, and social proof. An effective defining / credibility statement quickly establishes trust and can help reduce anxiety and uncertainty.

Creating your own credibility statement is easy, simply highlight the number of years you’ve been in business plus the number of guests you’ve served over the years. 

Here are some examples Tim shared: 

  • “Over 20 Years & 3,000 Happy Guests”
  • “Over 3,000 Happy Guests Since 1999”
  • “Celebrating 30 Years & 1,000s of Happy Eco-Adventure Travelers”

Apart from adding a defining / credibility statement to your website, you should also consider the following items:

  • Make clear that your health and safety measures are Covid compliant — review your existing health and safety guidelines and consider creating a new page dedicated to explaining the measures you have put in place
  • Highlight your rescheduling, cancellation and refunds policies — not sure what to add to your policies? Check out this blog post to get started
  • Improve the quality of your website — slow-loading websites with outdated or cluttered designs and stock photos can give the impression that your tours are not as good as you say they are. If you have time, improve your website with these 11 tips to build a great tour operator website
  • Show that your customers have a great time when they book with you — You could add reviews, testimonials and even photos from previous customers.

5. Distraction 

Are there elements on your page that distract users from its main purpose? Do you have any conflicting elements? 

Distractions are bits of content or design elements that draw visitors’ attention away from the main purpose of the page. Take your booking page for example, all your content and design should focus on leading the user to booking a tour with you. You should not be asking them to sign up for a newsletter or to check out your latest blog post. 

To reduce distraction, keep the text on your page concise and focused on the main message. Break down large chunks of text into shorter paragraphs or use bullet points so that your content is easy to read. 

Design-wise, reduce visual clutter and unnecessary elements. On your important booking pages, do you best to reduce the number of ways that users can leave that page. A good start is to reduce the number of hyperlinks that direct users off that page. 

Here’s an example of how marketing experts optimise landing pages to reduce distraction.

6. Urgency

Give your visitors an incentive to take action NOW. 

Run flash sales, limited promotions, or campaigns, or consider offering seasonal experiences to generate urgency. 

Adding phrases like: “Spots sell out fast,” or: “Limited seats available,” can generate a sense of urgency in your copy. 

You can also add timers to your booking flow, where, for example, a 15-minute timer starts running as soon as website users add tours or activities to their basket. 

This is an example of what TrekkSoft’s timer looks like. 

Floating cart - NHUE - Barcelona

Optimize your booking flow and upsell customers to increase booking value

An optimized website should lead more visitors to click on your booking button. However, that’s not a guarantee that the user will complete the booking and payment process. 

Your booking flow starts the moment someone spots your Book Now button and clicks on it. By optimizing your booking flow, you are doing everything you can to make sure users complete the entire booking process. Don’t allow them to get bored or frustrated or distracted, and end the booking process prematurely. 

In this part of the blog post, I’ll walk you through proven ways to optimize your booking and checkout process so that your customers not only finish the booking process, but also purchase a couple of extra items to boost their booking value.

While most booking systems offer a standard booking flow to all users, there are certain elements you can tweak to improve the user experience of your site. 

1. Placement of your Book Now button

First and foremost, you should make it extremely easy for users to begin their booking process. 

Placing your Book Now button above the fold and using a contrasting colour for your button makes it more noticeable to users, and they’ll know exactly what to click should they want to book an experience with you.

I also recommend adding a booking button to the bottom of your page, after you’ve given users some time to read and learn about the tours or activities you offer.  

Shepton Mallet Prison’s booking page is a good example of this. The prison is a heritage tour site run by The Campbell Group in the UK. 

One last thing about your booking buttons — don’t forget to add them to all your booking pages.

2. Use the right booking button integration for each webpage

Different booking systems offer different ways to add your booking flow to your website. For instance, TrekkSoft offers more than 10 ways to integrate the booking button to your website, each serving a slightly different booking experience. 

Let me walk you through what you could add to each page. I’ll refer to the chart above to help you understand where each page fits in your overall website. 

Homepage

Your homepage is where you offer an overview of all the experiences you sell. Here, your booking button should also lead to an overview of your most popular tours or the tours you’re offering that season. 

Category pages

These are the pages labelled “Tours”, “Activites”, and “Upsells”. Of course, on a real operator site, you’d label this according to your business and brand. 

On these pages, you could add a CTA that leads to the booking pages (more on that in the next section), or add a booking button that leads to an overview of the activities in that category. 

Booking pages

Your booking pages are the pages labelled “Tour 1”, “Activity 1”, or “Rental”, are where you write detailed descriptions about your tours and the value proposition for each experience. On these pages, your booking flow can skip the overview and the product descriptions, and head straight to selecting the time and dates for the tour. 

Make sure users don’t leave your site

Lastly, if you are given the option to choose between having the booking flow appear in a pop-up, in a new tab or in a new window, we recommend that tour and activity operators choose the pop-up so that your users don’t have to leave the product page or your website when making a booking.  

3. Check that your translations are complete

Operators who have translated their website content should check that their activities, schedules, pricing, and automated confirmation emails and tickets have been translated in full. 

It is not uncommon for us to find incomplete translations, which can distract customers from completing the booking process.

4. Review your form fields

Go through your booking flow once more and review the questions you’re asking users before they complete the booking process. Are you only asking the necessary questions for you to process the booking? 

Remember that you can always get additional information after completing the booking and payment.

5. Upsell your customers to increase booking value

Upselling customers can be as simple as adding a food option to a full-day tour or a photo package to a skydiving experience. Hotels and airlines have been doing this for years (think about the travel insurance they try to sell you at the end of every booking flow) and they keep doing it because it’s a great way to increase booking value. 

What should you offer your customers?

To come up with an attractive offer, consider your target customer and what they’re most likely going to ask for before, during or after the tour. Do they ask if you provide pick-up services before the trip? Do they ask if lunch is included?

If your tours target young families, could you offer a Kiddie Snack Pack or a healthy family picnic basket as an add-on? Perhaps you attract a lot of bachelorette groups, what about offering a bottle of champagne and some party favours? Maybe you offer a bike tour and could offer an additional bike rental as well? 

Whatever you end up offering, make sure it’s so valuable that your customers can’t resist.

When to upsell? 

  • Before the booking process starts — we recommend that you mention the different add-ons offered on your booking pages so that customers have a clear idea of what you offer right from the start
  • During the booking process — if your booking system offers an add-on feature where you’re able to upsell your customers in the booking flow itself, go ahead and add that to the booking flow
  • After the booking process — you can also mention add-ons in your booking confirmation emails or follow-up emails leading up to the tour too.

That’s a lot of advice. Where should you start?

Before you begin optimizing your website, pick your top three tours and clearly define the value proposition for each one. Then, write down another three to five things that highlight the value of your brand versus your competitors.

Once that’s done, picking the right pages to begin optimising is easy. 

Go to the analytics part of your website builder and look for pages that have the highest website visits in the last year, but the lowest conversions. These are your low hanging fruit. 

Start by editing your content for clarity and relevance, then reduce distractions and anxiety in your content and with your page design. Finally, brainstorm a few ways to create urgency, whether that’s adding urgency to your web content or running a campaign or flash sale. 

Lastly, dig into your booking and checkout flow and look out for the easy ways to level up your booking process and adding upsells to your website. 

Happy optimising! 

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The maximum aggregate liability of Event for any claim in any way connected with, or arising from, the Event or this Agreement, whether in contract, tort, or otherwise (including any negligent act or omission), shall be limited to the amount paid by you to Arival under this Agreement.

Miscellaneous

Arival’s failure to exercise any right provided for herein shall not be deemed a waiver of any further rights hereunder. Arival shall not be liable for any failure to perform its obligations hereunder where such failure results from any cause beyond Arival’s reasonable control. If any provision of this Agreement is found to be unenforceable or invalid, that provision shall be limited or eliminated to the minimum extent necessary so that this Agreement shall otherwise remain in full force and effect and enforceable. This Agreement is not assignable, transferable, or sub-licensable by you except with Arival’s prior written consent. This Agreement shall be governed by the laws of the State of Colorado, and the parties shall submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Colorado courts. A party that substantially prevails in action brought under this Agreement is entitled to recover from the other party its reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. Both parties agree that this Agreement is the complete and exclusive statement of the mutual understanding of the parties and supersedes and cancels all previous written and oral agreements, communications, and other understandings relating to the subject matter of this Agreement and that all modifications must be in writing signed by both parties, except as otherwise provided herein. No agency, partnership, joint venture, or employment is created as a result of this Agreement, and you acknowledge that you do not have any authority of any kind to bind Arival in any respect whatsoever. 

ARIVAL 360 LAS VEGAS 2022 ON SALE NOW!

ARIVAL 360 LAS VEGAS 2022

10-13  October 2022 | In-Person

THE event for creators and sellers of Tours, Activities, Attractions & Experiences to connect, learn, and grow their business

Research

Event Refund Program

Please contact us at [email protected] if you need personal assistance.

The Global Refund Program reimburses you for the Ticket Cost of a non-refundable, unused Ticket, less any Refunds if a Ticketholder is unable to use their Ticket due to one or more of the following reasons:

  1. Any serious Injury or any unforeseen serious Illness occurring to a Ticketholder which results in a Ticketholder being unable to attend the Event for which the Ticket is purchased. In the case of such Injury or Illness, the Ticketholder must be examined by a physician, who must advise the Ticketholder in writing not to attend the Event.
  2. Any serious Injury or any unforeseen serious Illness occurring to a Ticketholder’s Immediate Family Member which requires the Ticketholder to provide primary care to that person. In the case of such Injury or Illness, the Ticketholder’s Immediate Family Member must be examined by a Physician.
  3. Any serious Injury or any unforeseen serious Illness occurring to a Ticketholder’s Immediate Family Member that is considered life-threatening or requiring hospitalization. In the case of such Injury or Illness, the Ticketholder’s Immediate Family Member must be examined by a Physician.
  4. A Ticketholder receiving a positive COVID-19 Test resulting in the Ticketholder being unable to attend the Event due to a requirement to self-isolate. You must provide evidence of a positive COVID-19 Test.
  5. A Ticketholder who is deemed to be in a high-risk group and is advised by a Physician not to attend the Event. Ticketholder must not have knowledge of being in a high-risk group at the time of purchase.
  6. A Ticketholder’s death on or within 30 days prior to the Event.
  7. The death of a Ticketholder’s Immediate Family Member on or within 30 days prior to the Event.
  8. A Ticketholder being directly involved in a Traffic Accident on the day of the event that causes damage to a Ticketholder’s vehicle creates an immediate need for repair to ensure the safe operation of the vehicle.
  9. A Mechanical Breakdown of a Ticketholder’s vehicle within 48 hours of the Event, resulting in the non-use of the vehicle as transportation to the Event. You must provide proof of the Mechanical Breakdown, such as a tow truck or mechanic’s receipt or a police report.
  10. A Ticketholder who is on Active Military Duty having been deployed overseas at the time of the Event.
  11. A Ticketholder being directly or indirectly involved in a traffic accident en route to departure on a Common Carrier resulting in the Ticketholder missing transportation to the Event, provided that the transportation was scheduled to depart no more than 48 hours prior to the Event, and the Common Carrier was unable to accommodate the Ticketholder on later transportation which would arrive in time to attend the Event.
  1. A Ticketholder not arriving at the venue due to a delay by the Common Carrier used for transportation.
  2. Severe weather conditions result in the Ticketholder’s inability to attend the Event. The Ticketholder must be unable to reach the Event by car or Common Carrier. This does not include weather such as heavy snowfall with roads open, ice on roads, or abnormally heavy rain unless the intervention of authorities is involved. If the event is canceled due to weather, the Ticketholder will not qualify for a refund.
  3. Fire, burglary, vandalism, or Natural Disaster causes the Ticketholder’s home to be uninhabitable after the purchase of Tickets and before the date of the event.
  4. Fire, burglary, vandalism, flood, or Natural Disaster causes the Ticketholder’s place of work to be unsuitable for normal business practice after the purchase of Tickets and within 48 hours of the Event.
  5. A Ticketholder’s or their Spouse’s job is relocated 100 miles or more from the Ticketholder’s primary residence. Accepting a new job with another employer is not considered relocation and does not qualify for a refund.
  6. A Ticketholder or their Spouse being laid off or terminated through no action or fault of their own, after at least 3 continuous years of permanent employment with the same employer. The termination must occur after the purchase date. Self-employed workers, volunteer workers, or any other unpaid workers do not qualify for a refund.
  7. A Ticketholder being required to serve jury duty or being served with a subpoena or court order requiring attendance in court the day the Event is scheduled, preventing the attendance of the Event.
  8. A minor Ticketholder being unable to attend an Event because the Ticketholder on whom they are dependent to take them to the Event is unable to take them due to one or more of the reasons listed above.

What We Will Not Refund

No refund will be provided as a result whether directly or indirectly of the following:

  1. Alcohol or substance abuse; or conditions or physical complications related thereto of a Ticketholder or a Ticketholder’s Immediate Family Member;
  2. Any general restrictions imposed on traveling or gathering as a result of COVID-19;
  3. Any consequence of war, invasion, acts of foreign enemies, hostilities (whether war be declared or not), civil war, rebellion, revolutions, insurrection, military or usurped power, riot, civil commotion strikes, lockout, terrorism, malicious intent or vandalism, confiscation or nationalization of or requisition or destruction of or damage to property by or under the order of any government or public or local authority;
  4. Nuclear reaction, radiation, or radioactive contamination;
  5. Terrorism;
  6. Pollution or threat of pollutant release;
  7. Any unlawful acts committed by a Ticketholder or Ticketholder’s Immediate Family Members
  8. The Event being canceled by the venue or promoter for any reason (including bad weather);
  9. Lost or stolen Tickets;
  10. Dental treatment, except as a result of an Injury to sound natural teeth;
  11. Participation in any military service, maneuver or training exercise not overseas;
  12. Inability to obtain a visa required for travel;
  13. Making a false or fraudulent refund application or support a refund application by false or fraudulent document, device, or statement;
  14. Submitting your refund request more than 45 days after the Event;
  15. Any expected or foreseeable events not listed under the What We Will Refund section

General Conditions

  • You must provide sufficient documentation to verify your refund request falls under one or more of the reasons listed in the What We Will Refund section.
  • You must make all necessary arrangements to arrive at the event on time.
  • You must not be aware of any material fact, matter or circumstance, at the time the refund protection was purchased, which may give rise to a refund request.
  • You must take all reasonable precautions to prevent or reduce any request for a refund

Unless we agree otherwise:

  • The language of this document and all communications relating to it will be English; and
  • All aspects of the contract, including negotiation and performance, are subject to English laws and the decisions of English courts.

Definitions

  • Accident means an unexpected, unintended, unforeseeable event.
  • Active Military Duty means serving in the armed forces.
  • Common Carrier means an entity licensed to carry passengers for hire by air, or on land or water. Common Carrier does not include vehicle rental companies.
  • COVID-19 means Coronavirus disease known as COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 Test means any positive test for COVID-19 that can be evidenced and requires a Ticketholder to self-isolate.
  • Event means an experience or a series of experiences, with specified or expiration dates, that a Ticketholder reserves, registers, attends, or participates in such as sports, performing arts, camps, tournaments, conferences, lodging, specialized classes, spa treatments, or other similar experiences.
  • Illness means a sickness, infirmity, or disease that begins after the Ticket is purchased, which prevents the Ticketholder from attending the Event, and is not a Pre-existing Condition.
  • Immediate Family Member means a Ticketholder’s spouse, parent, child, foster child, stepchild or child-in-law.
  • Injury means bodily injury caused by an Accident, directly and independently of all other causes and sustained on or after the purchase date and before the Event Date.
  • Mechanical Breakdown means a mechanical issue that prevents a vehicle from being driven, a flat tire requiring professional roadside assistance, or a vehicle becoming inoperable. Mechanical breakdown does not include running out of fuel, the need for routine maintenance, or inoperability because of lost, unavailable, or stolen keys.
  • Natural Disaster means flood, wildfire, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, tsunami, volcanic eruption, blizzard, or avalanche that is due to natural causes.
  • Physician means a licensed/qualified medical practitioner who is practicing within the scope of his or her license/qualification and who is licensed to prescribe and administer medication and to perform surgery that is appropriate for the condition and locality. A Physician does not include someone residing in Your home, an Immediate Family Member, or Your in-laws (parent, child, sibling), aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, or legal guardian.

Refund means:

  • Money returned to You by the supplier;
  • Any credit or voucher for future events You receive or are entitled to receive from the supplier; or
  • Any credits, recoveries, or reimbursements You receive or are entitled to receive from Your employer, a credit card issuer, or any other institution.
  • Spouse means a Ticketholder’s lawful spouse as defined by law and includes civil unions and domestic partners.
  • Ticket means the registration or reservation required to attend or participate in an Event and paid for in full by You. A ticket is deemed used once the Ticketholder attends any part of the Event.
  • Ticket Cost means the total amount paid for one Ticket, including any prorated taxes, fees, and shipping costs. Ticket Cost does not include costs added after the refund protection has been provided.
  • Ticketholder means the person to whom this ticket is issued and has an incidence of ownership under this ticket. Ticketholder does not include a Ticket Reseller.
  • Ticket Reseller means a person or entity that buys tickets for the purpose of resale and includes any marketplace designed to facilitate such resale. Ticket Reseller includes ticket scalpers and ticket brokers.

THE “GLOBAL REFUND PROGRAM” IS A PROGRAM OF JSV EVENTS LIMITED WITH REIMBURSEMENTS MADE BY VERICLAIMS, INC. POWERED BY FANSHIELD INTERNATIONAL, LLC AS AN AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE OF JSV EVENTS LIMITED (REGISTRATION NO 10712264)

Welcome to Arival!

Arival is pleased to welcome all of its international attendees to the USA and would like to make the process as seamless as possible.

If you are traveling to the United States for tourism or business for 90 days or less, you may be eligible to visit the US without a visa if your country is participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

Visitor Visa

Overview

Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for a temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Visitor visas are nonimmigrant visas for persons who want to enter the United States temporarily for business (visa category B-1), for tourism (visa category B-2), or for a combination of both purposes (B-1/B-2).

Here are some examples of activities permitted with a visitor visa:

  • Consult with business associates
  • Attend a scientific, educational, professional, or business convention or conference
  • Settle an estate
  • Negotiate a contract

Learn more about  Business Travel to the United States  (PDF – 362 KB) on a visitor visa.

  • Tourism
  • Vacation (holiday)
  • Visit with friends or relatives
  • Medical treatment
  • Participation in social events hosted by fraternal, social, or service organizations
  • Participation by amateurs in musical, sports, or similar events or contests, if not being paid for participating
  • Enrollment in a short recreational course of study, not for credit toward a degree (for example, a two-day cooking class while on vacation)

Learn more about  Visitor Visas – Business and Pleasure   (PDF – 1020 KB).

These are some examples of activities that require different categories of visas and cannot be done while on a visitor visa:
  • Study
  • Employment
  • Paid performances, or any professional performance before a paying audience
  • Arrival as a crewmember on a ship or aircraft
  • Work as foreign press, in radio, film, print journalism, or other information media
  • Permanent residence in the United StatesThese are some examples of activities that require different categories of visas and cannot be done while on a visitor visa:
    • Study
    • Employment
    • Paid performances, or any professional performance before a paying audience
    • Arrival as a crewmember on a ship or aircraft
    • Work as foreign press, in radio, film, print journalism, or other information media
    • Permanent residence in the United States

How to Apply

There are several steps to apply for a visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary by U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Please consult the instructions on the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website.

Complete the Online Visa Application

  • Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 – Learn more about completing the DS-160. You must: 1) complete the online visa application and 2) print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
  • Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. Your photo must be in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.

Schedule an Interview

Interviews are generally required for visa applicants with certain limited exceptions below. Consular officers may require an interview of any visa applicant.

If you are age:Then an interview is:
13 and youngerGenerally not required
14-79Required (some exceptions for renewals)
80 and olderGenerally not required

You should schedule an appointment for your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you live. You may schedule your interview at another U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but be aware that it may be more difficult to qualify for a visa outside of the country where you live.

Wait times for interview appointments vary by location, season, and visa category, so you should apply for your visa early. Review the interview wait time for the location where you will apply:

Visa Appointment Wait Times

Advance travel planning and early visa application are important. If you plan to apply for a nonimmigrant visa to come to the United States as a temporary visitor, please click the button below to go to https:/travel.state.gov where you will find a helpful tool that allows you to look up Visa Appointment Wait Times by U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Prepare for Your Interview

  • Fees – Pay the non-refundable visa application fee, if you are required to pay it before your interview. If your visa is approved, you may also need to pay a visa issuance fee, if applicable to your nationality.

Click here to see all information about Fees for Visa Services.


  • Review the instructions available on the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply to learn more about fee payment.

Gather Required Documentation

Gather and prepare the following required documents before your visa interview:

  • Passport valid for travel to the United States – Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the United States (unless exempt by country-specific agreements). Each individual who needs a visa must submit a separate application, including any family members listed in your passport.
  • Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 confirmation page.
  • Application fee payment receipt, if you are required to pay before your interview.
  • Photo – You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. If the photo upload fails, you must bring one printed photo in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.
  • Invitation Letter: If you are in need of an invitation letter in support of your visa application, please email [email protected] with your full name (as it appears on your passport), your passport number, and email address. We will respond within 3 business days.

Additional Documentation May Be Required

Review the instructions for how to apply for a visa on the website of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply. Additional documents may be requested to establish if you are qualified. For example, additional requested documents may include evidence of:

  • The purpose of your trip,
  • Your intent to depart the United States after your trip, and/or
  • Your ability to pay all costs of the trip.

Evidence of your employment and/or your family ties may be sufficient to show the purpose of your trip and your intent to return to your home country. If you cannot cover all the costs for your trip, you may show evidence that another person will cover some or all costs for your trip.

Note: Visa applicants must qualify on the basis of the applicant’s residence and ties abroad, rather than assurances from U.S. family and friends. A letter of invitation or Affidavit of Support is not needed to apply for a visitor visa. If you choose to bring a letter of invitation or Affidavit of Support to your interview, please remember it is not one of the factors used in determining whether to issue or deny the visa.

Attend Your Visa Interview

A consular officer will interview you to determine whether you are qualified to receive a visitor visa, or if another category is more appropriate for your purpose of travel.  You must establish that you meet the requirements under U.S. law to receive a visa.

Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans are taken as part of the application process. They are usually taken during your interview, but this varies based on location.

After your visa interview, the consular officer may determine that your application requires further administrative processing.  The consular officer will inform you if this required.

After the visa is approved, you may need to pay a visa issuance fee (if applicable to your nationality), and make arrangements for the return of the passport and visa to you.  Review the visa processing times to learn more.

Entering the United States

A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry (generally an airport) and request permission to enter the United States. A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at the port-of-entry have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States. If you are allowed to enter the United States, the CBP official will provide an admission stamp or a paper Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record. Learn more about admissions and entry requirements, restrictions about bringing food, agricultural products, and other restricted/prohibited goods, and more by reviewing the CBP website.

Extending Your Stay

See Extend Your Stay on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website to learn about requesting to extend your stay beyond the date indicated on your admission stamp or paper Form I-94.

Failure to depart the United States on time will result in being out of status. Under U.S. law, visas of individuals who are out of status are automatically voided (Section 222(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act).  Any multiple entry visa that was voided due to being out of status will not be valid for future entries into the United States.

Failure to depart the United States on time may also result in you being ineligible for visas in the future. Review Visa Denials and Ineligibilities and Waivers: Laws to learn more.

Change of Status

If your plans change while in the United States (for example, you marry a U.S. citizen or receive an offer of employment), you may be able to request a change in your nonimmigrant status to another category through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). See Change My Nonimmigrant Status on the USCIS website to learn more.

While you are in the United States, receiving a change of status from USCIS does not require you to apply for a new visa.  However, once you depart the United States you must apply for a new visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the appropriate category for your travel.

Additional Information

An individual on a visitor visa (B1/B2) is not permitted to accept employment or work in the United States.

  • There is no guarantee you will be issued a visa. Do not make final travel plans or buy tickets until you have a visa.
  • A valid U.S. visa in an expired passport is still valid. Unless canceled or revoked, a visa is valid until its expiration date. If you have a valid visa in your expired passport, do not remove it from your expired passport. You may use your valid visa in your expired passport along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the United States.

Further Questions

  • Case-Specific Questions – Contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate handling your visa application for status information. Select U.S. Embassy or Consulate for contact information.
  • General Questions – review Contact Us.

What type of Company Are You?

The diverse Arival community includes everyone in tours, activities, attractions and experiences.

Operator company types include: Active/Adventure, Food & Drink, Sightseeing, Cultural, Classes, Recreational and/or Wellness, Tour Guides and Tour Directors, Attractions, Resorts, Experience Hosts and Transportation Companies.

Small Operator

For companies that create, operate, or sell tours/attractions with LESS than $100,000 USD revenue in your last fiscal year.

Med/Large Operator​

For companies that create, operate, or sell tours/attractions with GREATER than $100,000 USD revenue in your last fiscal year.

All Other Companies​

Includes: Distribution / Reseller (OTA, Wholesaler, Local, GDS, Travel Agent, etc.), DMO or CVB’s, DMC’s, Technology, Marketing / Advertising Agency, Training & Education, Consultants, Association / Not for Profits, and all others.

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