Article

Graham Charlton
Graham Charlton 24 April 2019
Categories B2C, Ecommerce, Research

How Travel Websites Can Increase Online Bookings

​In this post, we’ll look at some of the key features and tactics used by the top online travel sites to improve conversion rates.

We looked at the features and tactics used by the top 50 transactional travel websites (based on Alexa rankings).


Auto-Complete in Site Search

As users type a destination, auto complete in site search suggests possible matches for the user based on the text entered.

This speeds up the process for travellers, and avoids mistakes which could lead to inaccurate or zero search results. Google claims that autocomplete can speed up searches by 25%.

Here’s a good example from Expedia, which suggests destinations as you type. It avoids user errors when entering tricky spellings.


Flexible Search

This allows people to search beyond specific days, perhaps across an entire month, or for available holidays three days either side of the dates entered.

This means travellers can see what’s available without pinning them down to specifics. It's good for a broad search when you start researching holidays, and means you don’t have to narrow down your options or carry out lots of separate searches.

Thomas Cook is a good example here. It allows you to be relatively vague about dates and destinations. 
 


Booking Abandonment Emails

Booking abandonment emails are sent when users begin a booking online but abandone before they finish. These emails remind users of the flight or holiday they were about to book, and send them back into the booking process.

This can help users in the research phase by saving booking details for them, and allows sites to recover abandoned bookings. 30% of the top 50 travel sites send emails after users abandon a booking.

Iberia-booking-abandonment-email.png


Use of Maps

Maps are a great way to help travel shoppers understand their destination better. For example, they can be used to show how close a hotel or villa is to key locations such as the nearest beach, town centres or restaurants.

They can also be great for search, as customers can search by location, finding available hotels near town centres, local beaches, and so on.


User Reviews

Reviews are great social proof, and they help customers to decide what’s right for them, and to avoid hotels with poor service or smelly bathrooms. Indeed, many people don’t often book without them – 95% of travellers read reviews before booking.

Having reviews helps with the research process and, for travel sites, providing reviews  means they’re more likely to stay on their site to research rather than using tripadvisor.


Address Entry Shortcuts

Postcode look-up tools or autosuggest options can speed up the address entry process, making booking easier. It can also help to avoid address entry errors.

However, just 4 of the top 50 travel sites use this. It’s a little surprising as this is a very good way to simplify the booking process.

 


Content About Destination

Content on-site, ideally available during research and booking, can help users to research their holiday without having to leave the site.

It gives them this useful information at the point when they’re considering a purchase. We found that 40% of sites used content, but often it was located away from the booking process where it may not be seen. 


Use of Urgency

Key information showing customers how many people are booking, how many hotel rooms are available on a given date, or how long they have left to take advantage of a special offer can nudge people into making a decision more quickly.

For example, if there are just three rooms remaining in the hotel they are considering, they’d better move fast to avoid missing out. 

For example, Hotels.com provides useful information which helps customers to make a decision.

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