By Brendan Jones, director of travel and leisure at Ve
The online travel sector is one where consumers are inundated with choice, and one that is hallmarked by browser culture.
OTAs such as lastminute.com, Hotels.com, Kayak and others offer consumers a plethora of travel availability and holiday package bundles to choose from. Customers are in fact now spoilt for choice.
So what should online travel bookers do to make sure they are the customer’s first choice amid intense competition?
Travel providers can (and should) aim to offer a greater degree of personalisation, but it should be one that is tailored not just around your messaging, but also aligned to your own goals as a travel provider.
Here are just a few quick reminders of how to go about maintaining your travel pages to increase conversions; by implementing small, incremental changes to your bookings page you can ensure a booking is not abandoned.
Employ booking rebuilding functionality
With the booking cycle for travel being somewhat protracted, email re-engagement can help keep you front and centre when it comes to the time of booking.
If your site visitor browses your site and leaves before entering their details, booking rebuilding can be triggered with an onsite overlay at the point of booking abandonment.
This allows your visitor to save their travel itinerary and have it sent to their personal email details for later consideration.
The importance of embedding trust
While most of us feel comfortable entering our card details and personal details on the sites of major OTAs and hotels, smaller bespoke outfits can still be viewed with a modicum of suspicion.
Having your site certified by a recognised security authority, employing secure gateways for financial capture, and displaying terms and conditions and security policies prominently, will help to instil that extra bit of confidence.
Use image based decision-making to your benefit
Expedia’s recent study found that using clear images on travel sales website can markedly improve your conversion rate. A good-looking website is one of the first things your customer responds to, both consciously and subconsciously.
Some things to keep in mind:
• With visitors increasingly using a variety of devices to access your site, the larger the image, the more you compromise page load times.
• You also need to consider how the image appears on various platforms including mobile – does your call to action shift and detract from the image?
• Try not to mislead: using idyllic images that don’t truly represent the experience on offer is the fatal faux-pas here. You may make that initial sale, but with holidaymakers relying on reviews more than any other sector, you’ll soon be found out.
• If you employ carousel based images to display marketing messages more prominently, recall that you also need to have a radio button where the user can easily navigate back to the image that caught their eye.
Prepare for the long-tail traveller
What might make a customer abandon their travel bookings? We know that abandoned bookings can be a regular occurrence.
On average, research shows that bookers in travel check close to 40 different sites on average over a 6 week period before deciding on the right getaway. It is during this period that you need to reach out to those already warm leads, remaining front and centre for when they’re ready to make a decision.
Intelligent display advertising can be your greatest ally here, bringing traffic back to your site to convert users when the time is right.
A traveller’s user journey is a multifaceted one. Understanding your visitors, where they are in the buying cycle, and offering them relevant personalisation with small steps highlighted above, is the key to turning browsers into bookers.
As part of London Technology Week, Ve and Travolution are hosting industry leaders and the start-up community on 17 June, for a discussion about how new entrants in the supply chain are affecting the tour operator and hotel sectors.