Travel firms that treat first time visitors to their website as potential bookers are failing to forge valuable long-term relationships with their potential customers.
A Travolution session sponsored by optimisation experts Yieldify at last week’s EyeforTravel Summit heard how firms must increasingly optimise for the entire customer journey.
Customer Journey Optimisation (CJO) is fast replacing more traditional Conversion Rate Optimisation techniques according to Romain Sestier head of data Yieldify.
He said: “The typical approach of conversion rate optimisation is try to optimise for the base line of visitors on site but CRO just creates a base line experience for everyone.
“Something that’s changed in the past few years is that customers, especially in travel, are expecting a consistent experience across different channels, whether that’s email, the acquisition or research phase and across meta-search.
“To be able to action that you need to have tools that allow you to integrate and understand your customers and triggers based on that customer behaviour. To try to understand the user frustration.
“What we see in travel a lot of websites are trying to direct users straight to conversion without trying to take into consideration the research and discovery aspects of the journey.”
“During the discovery period most visitors will not book during the first session. That does not necessarily mean they don’t book in the first day of research, but they don’t book in the first session.
“So being able to cater for people who come back, reacting to past sales and past pages they visited to produce content that’s actually relevant to them will speed up their time booking.
“That’s really critical when you know that they are comparing across five to ten tabs at the same time across their browser and will book with the one that’s given them the most relevant information.”
Although travel firms are looking to use artificial intelligence to determine what their users intentions are from signals they leave when they are browsing around, Sestier warned against expecting early ROI out of the technology.
“We get clients all the time who come to us and say we want to do AI, machine learning personalisation, one-to-one marketing.
“I think the first step is to get stakeholder, or budget holder, buy in to say this is how it works, even if it’s a prototype. Take an agile approach.
AI is something you need to invest time in. The ROI isn’t necessarily evident straight away.
“The first step for most companies is to try to understand the customer in a quantitative manner without trying to automate that within machine learning.
“You should identify a few segments you know very well, that you can target, instead of trying to make it too complicated all at once.
The return will depend on type of project. It’s better to prove there’s value in targeting a specific segment on site and then engage email remarketing, marketing automation, campaigns once you have capture these users and identified them in the first place.”