By Brían Taylor, Digital Managing Director of Jaywing
With the full onslaught of winter upon us, it’s natural that people find themselves dreaming of sunny beaches and short escapes. It therefore came as no surprise that TravelSupermarket relaunched its website at the start of this year, ahead of the January peak booking period.
The travel industry has evolved hugely over the last five years with fresh competition, tighter purse strings and an increased demand for digital. In fact, research from eMarketer, revealed that in 2015 148.3 million bookings were made online.
TravelSupermarket’s new website has certainly prepared itself for this number to grow in 2016. The revamped site now claims to do far more than just price comparison, with editorial pages, videos and an ‘ask the experts’ section to guide customers through their path to purchase.
This move into a comprehensive site, offering more than simply price comparison, recognises how it’s not only the look and feel of a website that entices customers, but other elements.
At first it may seem counter intuitive; surely by adding new sections to the website you are prolonging the path to conversion? However, how often do people simply log on and buy? Most of us are likely to do a little research first, be that shopping around for a great price or background research on the most relevant destinations.
TravelSupermarket has created a hub for all of this information, where not only can the consumer fall in love with a destination on the editorial page, but they can then click straight through to book that holiday.
Initiatives like this demonstrates how travel brands need to look deeper at how better to optimise the whole online experience in order to increase conversion rates and maximise revenue.
It is vital for travel companies to understand these differing moments of search and the journey that consumers take in order to heighten conversion rates and generate more meaningful conversions. A customer’s online journey does not begin on a product landing page and it does not end in an order confirmation page.
VRO: the future of conversion
Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) has for many years led the way in tracking and quantifying the customer journey from the point they visit a website through to purchase. By analysing data on customer’s browsing behaviour, marketers tailor the experience hoping to increase the likelihood of conversion in the future.
While CRO can help travel companies understand the time customers spend on a website or what they clicked on, there are now better ways to understand the efficiency of online channels by looking at the whole online customer journey through data insight, or Value Rate Optimisation (VRO.)
Using the four pillars of successful user experience; discovery, engagement, transaction and advocacy, VRO can measure and improve upon the entire customer experience, rather than focusing on specific actions along the path to conversion alone. This includes everything from clicks to creative, social and eCRM.
Unlike CRO, VRO can look beyond behaviour, usability and personalisation on a particular page, instead addressing the entire online journey to understand the important elements in a company’s digital channel.
It addresses any additional queries from what the most valuable channel is, to which element of the digital offering is providing the best return and why. In doing so, VRO provides the opportunity for travel companies to improve the entire customer experience.
VRO in practise
To attract, engage and convert visitors, Merlin Entertainment created a compelling online user experience. Using VRO Merlin Entertainment interrogated the online ticket structure, looking at how to make the online experience more engaging through a range of qualitative and quantitative techniques.
By focusing on the behavioural trigger points within the engagement and transaction phases of the online customer experience, the company made subtle changes to the creative design, labelling and product positioning which they believed would influence visitor’s tendency to buy.
The move paid off and conversion rates increased by 33%, and have been maintained since, with average basket value increased by 7.5% in the first year.
From a wider business perspective, VRO also provides more advanced insights to help improve site management and reporting, which in turn leads to a better return on investment and the ability to make better-informed business decisions.
This is achieved by informing the company’s digital roadmap, content management and social media strategies and defining the role that digital should play in the customer service mix.
Today, websites are driven by so much more than clicks and forms. By using VRO effectively on its website, travel companies can achieve greater insights and improve the entire customer experience rather than focusing on specific actions along the path to conversion alone.