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4 tips to win and keep customers in online travel

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By: Elaine Winchester

Online travel conversion rates are low. That’s unsurprising, and it’s very unlikely to ever change.

But that’s not to say it can’t be improved. A good user experience makes all the difference in online retail.

This article will share four tips to win and keep customers in online travel.

HOORAH – It’s over! I must admit, I have had my fill of roaring fires, mulled-wine, cheese boards, mince pies (more cheese boards!) and matching family PJ’s for a good 11 months, at least.

As merry and as festive as the last few weeks have been, my thoughts, and my online shopping activities, have absolutely turned to my 2018 summer vacation.

TAKE ME AWAY!  

I think we can all agree that January is a pretty depressing month all-in-all. We are currently being battered by storms and general weather-related gloominess, so, the prospect of some sunshine and an escape from the day-to-day is certainly the beacon of light many feel the need to organise to take the edge of a typically soggy start to the New Year. 

It’s Medicinal….

Our work-life is more challenging  than ever before and our personal lives are more hectic than ever before. These days, vacations have gone from being viewed as a luxury item, to being necessary to our mental health and physical well-being. We all understand this, and in 2018, the average UK traveller is set to spend 7% more than they did in 2017 to get the holiday they want; a trend that is set to continue.

So, buckle-up if you work in online Travel retail, (of course, ensuring your chair is in an upright position, your tray-table is stowed with your window-blind open and your seat-belt securely fastened, naturally!) With some forward thinking, 2018 online trading needn’t be a bumpy ride! 

Online Customer Experience needs to be premium economy at the very least!

The travel industry is currently in its 1st peak trading period of the year now everyone’s New Year blues have well and truly kicked-in.

The online travel market is one of the most mature in existence with over 20 years of ecommerce under its belt to date. (The green and pink peaks here represent the January and July peak booking periods and the seasonal consistency the travel sector enjoys.)

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It is currently a critical trading time in the travel industry and a huge amount of the lessons learned in this key period will help shape booking peak number two that will follow in July.

As documented in the ABTA Holiday Habits Report 2017, online now represents over 80% of all travel bookings, versus 76% last year. The popularity of booking online is ever increasing, so it has never been so important to ensure your travel website is delivering 1st class online customer experience. 

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Survey question: "How have you booked your holidays in the past 12 months?"

So what should be on your checklist to pack into your website?

Don’t forget your mobile device!

The convenience of using a smartphone or tablet has revolutionised travel bookings with considerable growth in tablet usage across all age brackets, but, predominantly 25-34 year olds with an 8% uplift in 2017 vs 2016.  

It’s never been easier to book travel products on mobile devices, and online travel companies in the know, understand that investing in the ‘mCommerce’ capability is absolutely essential. Spontaneous, short lead-time purchases are more common amongst mobile device users so well worth making sure these visitors are well catered to! Optimise for mobile!

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Source: ABTA Holiday Habits Report 2017

Don’t pack-in too much!

Research indicates that often visitors are provided with way to much information that they just don’t need when booking travel products. Clear, concise and most importantly, up-to-date- imagery, is vital when showcasing travel products, especially when a comparable offering with another provider is only a few clicks away! Helpful links to review sites and opportunities to purchase specific in-resort excursions can help a user get to what they need without wandering on to another website! 

What time will it be when I get there?

Travel products often require rather a lot of personal information and entering this can take-up rather a lot of time. This becomes all the more frustrating when some of the information and pages a visitor is required to go through don’t actually apply to the destination they are visiting and are not related to their specific booking!

Ensure that the steps a buyer needs to go through are relevant and completely necessary!

Another ‘are we nearly there yet’ moment in the travel booking process is having to fill in duplicate information. Ensure that your website allows you to auto-fill and remember a client’s information where-ever possible, helping to avoid them going elsewhere to book their trip.

Do we have lift-off?

There is nothing more un-nerving than hitting the payment button and seeing a timer going on and on and on with no final purchase confirmation. This pushes me over the edge with a relatively low spend purchase, let alone an expensive travel purchase that could cost thousands!

Technical difficulties could cost you the sale and a customer for life so it’s vital that your site is performing at an optimal customer experience level and is truly reliable at this critical stage in the booking process.

It’s also worth considering what payment offerings are available to customers. Does your site make it easy for a customer to buy from you? What options do they have?

Travel also has things like deposits/split payments and ancillary purchase offerings, adding to the complexity of online booking for these types of products.

Ensure you have visibility of the CX health of your check-out, and remember, with travel purchases typically being high-value baskets, even an issue impacting 0.5% of your check-out visitors could mean serious cash.

  • Can you identify sessions where users are encountering struggle?
  • Can you quickly identify what sessions have been impacted by an issue?
  • Can you give your tech team the details of this issue so they can replicate and resolve it?
  • Can you quantify the impact of these issues so you prioritise fixes?

This insight is invaluable when peak-traffic is putting intense pressure on your infrastructure and resources and time are limited!

With these elements taken care of, it will be plain-sailing for the customers visiting your website and making perhaps one of the largest purchases for the whole of their 2018.

Get it right, and you’ll see them again in the 2019 peak trading period, passport and wallet in hand.

 

By: Elaine Winchester, Marketing Executive, UserReplay

 

Read more

To understand what else you can do to ensure your 2018 Online Travel sales take off, download the latest eBook from UserReplay The Ever-Changing Travel Ecommerce Landscape

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