12 ways to increase conversions on your travel website

February 09, 2017

Andey Speight

There are many instances in the online travel market where visitors will land on a travel website, search for accommodation, flights, hotels etc. only to leave without completing the booking.

95% of all traffic for hotel, airline and tour operator websites will leave long before finishing the booking process. This is due to complex marketing funnels, confusing navigation, difficult payment systems and to many forms. On average, the conversion rate for travel websites is considerably low in comparison to the conversion rate for companies operating in the financial and media sectors.

However, with the right travel technology solution, you can improve this figure by optimising your travel website to drive traffic and boost conversions. Below are a series of steps from our expert team which you can implement to encourage more of your customers to convert on your travel website.

Always display relevant information in search results

The search results which are generated after a visitor has entered their search terms can overwhelm them and cause them to abandon your website if the information provided is presented in an unclear fashion. It’s crucial your site delivers the customer all the relevant information they require without them ever having to leave the booking funnel. Options for flights and hotels must be presented in a clear layout with pricing being emphasised.

We recommend always ensuring you use call to action buttons wherever possible, drawing the visitor’s attention where appropriate. It’s also important to ensure the results page has some form of editable search bar to avoid inconvenience and to allow your visitors to amend their searches without having to go back and revisit previous pages.

Provide smart and intuitive searches on your site

The search function plays its most critical role on travel websites, making it imperative for your site to offer a quick and easy search engine. When it comes to travel websites, the chance of a transaction being made is based solely on site search. Your visitors will only choose holiday destinations through selecting a location and a date, leading them to eventually make a purchasing decision. Always make sure your site search is both fast and intuitive for maximum results.

When thinking about how your customers search on your site, there are 4 key search parameters to consider – date, budget, destination and the quantity of people travelling. To help your travel customers choose the best products and hold them long enough to make a booking, you can use advanced filtering technology, allowing them to receive everything from location, to extras such as car hire and transfers quickly and efficiently.

The ‘Progress bar’ is fundamental

There are many complex and intricate steps to take within the booking funnel, with everything from flights, care hire, transfers and attractions, it’s vital you give your users a seamless journey. If your booking flow is offering customers a confusing and difficult experience, then they are more likely to switch to offline channels with a higher cost. With recent research indicating that at least 18% of travellers find booking a holiday online problematic, refining your customers’ booking journey has never been more important.

Reducing the level of information that needs to be gathered throughout the booking journey is an extremely difficult task. Through using a system which divides the process into more recognisable stages can help make the customer’s experience on your site more user friendly, leaving them satisfied and more likely to book a holiday through your site in the future.

Free Wi-Fi is currently the most sought after hotel amenity with research indicating that almost all holiday makers view it as a top priority, other interests include free parking and breakfast. However, be warned, there are two crucial things you must always avoid when attempting to upsell travel extras on your site. Number 1: never try to upsell anything when the customer has already reached the checkout, as suggesting a travel extra so close to payment will just confuse and frustrate them. Number 2: avoid auto-checking add-ons as your customers will never be pleased to see the added cost to their order when they finally reach the checkout.

Take full advantage of upsell opportunities

The opportunity to upsell travel extras is at an all-time high in the online travel market, and those businesses leaving upselling out of their online strategy will fall behind the rest. Whether your customers would like to include travel insurance, or maybe an in-flight meal, the opportunities for upselling are limitless – airport lounges, parking, car hire and attractions are all additional services which can be included in your booking flow to increase the average order value.

Avoid ambiguity at all costs

It’s important to remember that your travel customers might not always understand the information you present at each stage of the booking funnel. The use of vague information can have the effect of confusing travellers as opposed to offering them a clear and easy booking experience.

For instance, when you ask a customer’s age, you may ask them the question in the form of three categories, Infant, adult and older. A 16naturally he’s not going to select ‘infant’, but consequently, he wouldn’t think of himself as an adult either. Elements such as these can be confusing for a user, and they will be more likely to abandon your site, particularly if the ticket prices alter in relation to the specific categories chosen.

Personalisation is key

In the world of online travel, each individual booking is personalised in some way. When travellers visit your site, they may have a number of different preferences. Some might be interested in first class seats, whereas others might be interested in free Wi-Fi when booking a hotel. Whatever the case, it’s fundamental that you use some form of personalisation in your online strategy.

Having a record of your travellers’ booking history, such as ‘member’ accounts, will help you include relevant offers unique to that person’s preferences the next time they visit your site. The use of reporting tools would also help you to track in-session activity more effectively, helping you to understand the behaviour of your customers when performing searches on your site.

Another aspect of the personalisation process is when a customer has booked with you on multiple occasions, giving you enough information to offer recommendations tailored to their preferences. Always look for consistencies in their booking behaviour, if they have recently shown interest in city based hotels, you can use this information to suggest similar experiences the next time they book on your site.

Be authentic

Appearance is everything in the online travel market, and can be the difference between success and failure for any travel website. In recent years, customers have become increasingly cautious when it comes to handing over their bank details online, having an authentic appearance for your travel website should therefore be one of your first priorities.

Consistency is fundamental, always ensure your website design is attractive and engaging for your target audience – from your heading sizes, to font styles, colours, layouts and images used. Your website content must be easy to read and interpret, avoid filling pages with irrelevant information. You need to consider your audience at all times, bad design and layout will only encourage users to leave your site in favour of a competitor.

For payments, always include a security seal when asking for a customer’s credit card details. Customer reviews and privacy policies are also crucial elements to include in order to gain a visitor’s trust, this is very important for any travel business seeking to achieve a successful venture online.

The Urgency principle

Research shows that the average travel shopper will visit up to 22 travel websites throughout multiple online sessions before finally making a purchasing decision. Booking a holiday online is a complex process, and travellers will easily be deterred by the slightest of inconveniences encountered throughout their journey. Act fast and use attention grabbing information to secure a sale. The best way to do this is through using the Urgency principle, one of the most useful and persuasive techniques in the online travel market, for example:

  • • Don’t miss out on discounted prices, book now!
  • • Book within next hour and get upgraded to first class on arrival
  • • Free breakfast! If you book now
  • • Book within 24 hours and get 50% off!

The possibilities are limitless when it comes to generating urgency. But don’t get carried away, offering deals you can’t deliver later down the line will have a lasting impact on your reputation as a company.

The power of reviews

Reviews are an excellent way of generating trust and one of the most crucial aspects of any business’s online presence, most notably in the online travel market.

The facts speak for themselves:
  • • Up to 70% of travellers will look at 20 reviews while planning a holiday online.
  • • 93% of international travellers’ state they have made a booking decision based on reviews alone.
  • • 49% of travellers’ state they will not book hotels which lack reviews.

Always remember, never fake the reviews you showcase on your site, visitors will always pick up on this.

Make the login button easy to find

Your travel customers will most definitely return to your website at some stage to either update or edit their booking information. This can be anything from viewing the flight number, time and date of their journey, to altering existing information for their trip such as changing their assigned seats, increasing their baggage allowance and adding any other promotional offers. Always ensure that you display the login button clearly enough on every page of your site to ensure your customers can easily locate it.

Invest into unique features and tools

Competition is high in the online travel market, and the only way to stay ahead of your rivals is to invest into some advanced features which will distinguish your travel website from the rest of the pack. To remain truly unique you'll need to go far and beyond just simple design techniques to offer something no one else is offering - Automated chatbots, dynamic travel suggestions and deal maps for added convenience are all great tools to feature on your travel website for optimum engagement.

Optimise your website for every screen and device

If you haven’t yet optimised for every screen and device, get to it! Because if you’re not, you will be losing a very large audience of potential customers and your reputation online will suffer as a result. Poor mobile experiences will cause customers to lose interest in your site, fast, resulting in lower conversion rates and a significant downfall in revenue.

Ensure you invest in a more adaptive design in order to give your travel customers a truly seamless experience across all screens and devices. If you have different websites for both mobile and tablet, always make sure they are equipped with the same functionality and features.

Talk to the experts

Digital Trip are the market leaders in travel technology solutions. Our award-winning technology, vast industry knowledge and unrivalled support has enabled over 450 travel agents, tour operators, wholesalers and travel specialists around the world achieve online success.

Talk to us today about a tailor-made solution that meets your travel business needs and today's connected travellers expectations