Online abandonment in the travel sector has risen across Europe, according to research by martech firm Ve Global.
Ve analysed behavioural trends from hundreds of thousands of online travel sessions across Europe. Booking abandonment online, where users begin the booking process but do not complete a purchase, stood at 92.8% in the second half of 2017, up from 85% in 2016.
It found that consumers in every subsector of travel are spending more time browsing options before committing to a purchase, which Ve said was a “considerable worry for travel companies allocating vast sums of their marketing spend to the digital ad space”.
According to the Ve report, travel agents “are suffering most from tip-toeing window shoppers”. They are losing 97.4% of online bookings during the checkout process across Europe, more than any other travel vertical, and is particularly prevalent in the UK and Spain.
Abandonment rates in the DACH market were highest with hotels (97.7%) and airlines (94.6%) from Germany, Austria and Switzerland producing an average of 95.9%.
Irish companies performed best in turning browsers into bookers with a rate of 89.3%, while UK travellers abandoned 90.6% of bookings.
One in 20 would-be hotel bookings were confirmed while airline customers were less hesitant, with 10% of flights completed online once the process had started.
The most clinical sub-sector in online travel was the more low cost options, with coach and ferry converting 15% of active traffic into bookings.
Ve’s data found that customers using desktop were more likely to convert than those on mobile once the booking process had begun. One in ten who started the process on desktop or laptop converted compared to one booking for every 20 checkout sessions on mobile, and in 6.6% of cases on a tablet.
But Ve, which is attending next week’s ITB event in Berlin, pointed out that there is an increasing trend towards mobile bookings. The DACH and UK markets had the lowest levels of mobile migration, with desktop still accounting for 42% and 40% of sales respectively. Irish consumers top the field with 64% of online bookings either made on a smartphone or tablet.
The report concluded: “What is overwhelmingly clear from this data is that abandonment is still a major issue within the travel sector in Europe. For businesses, it’s no longer about attracting traffic, it’s making it stick. Website performance at the booking stage, while seemingly the final step in the process, is actually the tip of the iceberg in terms of the abandonment challenge plaguing Europe’s travel industry.
“While the industry continues to digitise, there’s now an increasing number of ways to ‘weaponise’ the customer data being collected that could begin the fight back against online abandonment.”
The report used coach tour operator Shearings Holidays as an example of a company that has used data to solve its abandonment issues. Ve says its “hyper-personalised” display to dynamically retarget ads based on customer intent data and booking summaries. It used proprietary and second party data to target niche particular segments and saw a “significant” rise in online bookings per campaign.
“This precision approach is the key to unlock the potential in checkout abandonment,” it went on. “There is no average customer. Marketers have long struggled against the complex diversity of their audiences and the impossible task of creating real-time, relevantly personalised experiences.
“To tackle increasing abandonment, travel companies must not only meet customer expectations but anticipate and inspire decisions with real-time, predictive and intent-driven interactions.”