Travel websites appear to be overvaluing their worst performing channels due to a focus on upper funnel traffic volumes, according to the findings of a new report.
Latest research into how travel retailing online matches up to general retailing has shed light on the complexity of the process and how poor travel’s conversion rates are.
Qubit, the London-based web analytics firm, studied data from its clients ahead of its first travel industry roundtable held this week and chaired by Travolution editor Lee Hayhurst [a full report on the discussion will be available in due course].
The firm’s Travel vs Retail report reveals how travel conversion rates online are just 0.75% compared to a much healthier 5.29% in general retail.
However, travel enjoys average basket values ten times higher than general retail but the buying cycle is much longer – an average 13.2 days compared to 6.5.
Travel buyers view an average of 9.4 pages per conversion, underlining the complex nature of the path to purchase.
Other factors the Qubit report highlighted included mobile, channel mix, the impact of site search, cart abandonment, first impressions and repeat purchasers.
Mobile, excluding tablet, accounted for 8% of visitors in travel compared to 4% in retail, but conversions were only at 0.16% (2.4% for retail).
Tablet traffic was slightly higher in travel than for retail at just under a quarter, but conversions again lagged well behind on 0.57% compared to 5.55%.
Qubit said this shows how travel firms need to make sure that their mobile, tablet and desktop campaigns are integrated.
Media mix analysis revealed a far greater reliance on search engine marketing – PPC playing a much more significant role than in retail – but a far lesser role for affiliates.
Affiliates, however, was the highest converting channel, suggesting a missed opportunity in travel. Email and direct channels were also less important in travel.
The report states: “In terms of media mix, travel websites rely more on display, SEM, SEO and vertical search relative to retail, but these are among its worst performing channels.
“This could be down to the fact that given these channels represent nearly 75% of traffic they need to be fully optimised.
“Conversely, retailers rely more heavily on direct, affiliate, and email, which are travel’s best performing channels relative to retail, where the difference in conversion rate the most favourable.”
Graham Cooke of Qubit said: “The key takeaway from our research and roundtable is that not all ecommerce is the same.
“There’s a huge amount of potential to be unlocked in the travel sector, and strategies like content marketing, mobile optimisation and creating that single view of the customer remain top priorities for leading travel businesses.
“It is clear from the findings that travel buyers have very specific needs and desires, and travel retailers therefore have to be able to predict and personalise in real time to cater to them.”
The full Qubit report can be downloaded here.