Within the last 50 years, the way we work and play has dramatically changed, and this is exceptionally true for the travel industry. From hotel deals and flights to once in a lifetime excursions, every single part of the travel industry is evolving. For travel managers and directors sticking their heads in the sand, hoping it will go away, time is ticking till their brand will eventually disappear.
Travel websites and apps need to be the innovators of digital change. Some companies may think that implementing new functionalities and conducting continuous trend focused questionnaires will ensure an upwards trajectory, but this simply isn’t true in the over-saturated online market. Nowadays a travel site needs to be informative, immersive and useful, any deviations will result in customers turning away and using other sites.
As more comparative sites such as Skyscanner, weekend.com and Hopper emerge, having the cheapest and best deal online is almost impossible. And for big brands, this often means that brand reputation is the only aspect keeping their customers loyal.
In the digital age, loyal customers favour hassle free and informative experiences over complex ones, even if the deals are cheaper. Fluffing your customers up with perfect pictures, once in a lifetime experiences and spectacular destination descriptions won't count for anything if a singular issue is encountered during the browsing and payment process.
We've got you Covered
To help travel industries out, we have created a checklist highlighting where your customers are dropping off and how to prevent it.
1) Long and confusing payments:
The travel industry has the highest cart abandonment rate of all industries at an eye-watering 81.8% but why? The truth is most of us don’t like spending large amounts of money in one single transaction and for travel customers doing exactly this, their payment process must be flawless. Problems concerning complex or unfamiliar payment methods will turn your customers away. Even a lack of card option pictures can make your customers think twice. Moral of the story is: don’t fall at the last hurdle and perfect your payments.
2) Seamless connectivity:
When booking a package deal hundreds of connections are involved. You must inform the hotel, flight company and iron out any little details all the way down to inflight meals. After this is all confirmed, you must email the confirmation and send updates. That’s a lot of connections. Much like a stack of cards, if one falters they all go down, so ensuring your means of communication to third parties is continuous and secure will make or break your brand.
There’s always a maximum number of places available on travel sites. Rooms get booked up, cruises have a maximum capacity and flights can only take so many travellers. One single blip in numbers can result in overbooking and furious customers. But how do blips happen? Website crashes, slow loading times and inconsistent cross-device optimisation can all impact your digital performance, and it’s just a waiting game till they do. Website traffic varies depending on the time of year and deals available, can your site handle traffic-induced stress and have all the website defects been corrected?
4) New functionalities:
Innovative functionalities are a gift and a curse. They can offer more immersive and insightful experiences to entice your customers, but they are also ridden with bugs. One change in your website’s infrastructure can cause site crashes or slow loading times as your site attempts to handle its increasing expectations. After all, a recent study showed that a two-second delay in page load time increases bounce rates by more than 100%.
If you live within the UK it’s likely that you know about the British Airways and Marriott hotel hacking scandals, where millions of people had their sensitive information exposed to the public. For the travel industry, this means customers are more stringent about their online security and any problems or inconsistencies will turn away the crowds. As a trusted brand, you need to have payment option pictures, an SSL certificate, payment localisation and be optimised across all popular devices.
Phew, that’s a lot of areas to cover. The question is, is it even possible for travel sites to examine each and every aspect of their website?
Most brands have external agencies which perform back end sweepstake testing. But the problem is it doesn’t incorporate your customer's journeys. How can you ensure your site works for your customers if you aren’t approaching your site like a customer?