Travelling anywhere from the UK in 2020 and 2021 has been extremely stop-start and although the uncertainty has continued in to 2022, the world is hesitantly opening up to travellers again.
The team at Webtrends Optimize has many years of travel industry experience, all the way up to the CEO, so it is an industry close to their heart.
In this blog, I look at what the coming year has in store for travel companies and how Webtrends Optimize can help ensure that customer experience optimisation remains a top priority throughout these difficult times.
Although many of these points translate very well into other industries too.
Trust is Crucial
Many travellers facing cancellations in the early days of the Covid Pandemic found themselves at the mercy of the companies they had paid thousands of pounds for their dream holidays.
Refunds and credit vouchers became a hot topic and many travel companies were simply unable to provide appropriate resolutions.
Anyone planning to spend money to travel in 2022 will be putting an enormous amount of trust into the company and website they book with. There are many ways your website can showcase exactly how you are promising to look after your travellers and their money.
This could be as simple as creating a hello bar highlighting your company credentials, customer ratings/trust scores, or even a shortcut link to your own Covid-related purchase guarantees.
Every potential customer will be looking for this information now more than ever and Webtrends Optimize can help to make sure it has the appropriate visibility using customer experience optimisation.
Safety in Numbers
Another way to build that bond of trust with potential customers might be to show them that other users are visiting your site and booking with you.
The majority of us tend to feel a reassurance when part of a crowd rather than out there on our own, so using urgency messaging and social proofing cues to reinforce that people are looking and booking with you right now is a positive thing.
If you don’t want to show actual numbers eg. ‘X people are looking at this hotel’ then maybe use a specific threshold and display a message that is more generic such as ‘a high number of people are looking at this hotel right now’.
It is however important to use real data in these scenarios as you are building trust with your users and once that bond is broken it will be very hard/impossible to get it back. Faking it is not worth it.
Another way of using that social proof element could be to display reviews from your real customers that are recent, and positive, to reiterate that booking on your website is a safe choice even in these times.
Anyone who has been lucky enough to take a holiday recently knows exactly how much extra effort is now involved in the booking process.
From digital vaccine passports to country-specific travel declarations forms, endless QR codes and extra airport checks, it really is a minefield of necessary information - which changes frequently.
Ensuring your travel website makes this mandatory information easy to understand, as well as being sure that your customers actually read the information is important.
You could display a simple pop-up box prompting customers to read and acknowledge important information.
You could also create dedicated bespoke messaging workflows, depending on which destination your customer searches, to highlight the specific requirements for that country.
Providing messaging in the specific parts of your website where it is most relevant means you can ensure the important stuff is shown to those users the information is actually for, and do it in a positive way that won’t simply overwhelm all of your potential customers.
How flexible can you be?
We all hope that 2022 is the year where things really start to come back to normal. But the truth is, that none of us know what further challenges we might all face in the coming months.
Travel customers are feeling this unpredictable atmosphere and it’s having a big impact on the final purchase decision they make when searching travel websites for potential holidays.
Optimising your website to ensure that customers easily have a choice of flexible booking terms is essential to winning them over potential competitors who are already highlighting their free cancellation or amendment policies.
This could be as easy as adding a filter for free cancellation or refundable deposits into your search results. Perhaps a dedicated banner at the start of the customer journey shouting about your low amendments fees, or highlighting the most flexible holidays you are offering.
Have I missed something?
If you work for a travel company, you are most likely monitoring your booking conversion on your website and wondering what you could do to get this number a little bit higher.
Not all potential travel customers are ready to commit to booking something on their first search, but what does your website offer that ensures that they will come back to you when they are ready to make that final holiday purchase?
Customer expectations are probably higher than ever right now and you could be missing a simple piece of Covid-related information they’re looking for, or perhaps your website isn’t quite as clear as it could be as to what the final booking conditions are?
Optimising the customer experience with something as simple as an exit intent onsite survey as the customer looks to leaves your site could help highlight something you may be missing.
By actually asking your website users why they are leaving without purchasing, it may help you to see exactly what is missing from your customer journey… Is important information your customers expect to see simply not there? Or has something confused them in the final stages causing them to abandon their basket?
If you don’t ask you won’t know! AB testing different variations of your conversion funnel is always an important method of customer experience optimisation which can ensure your website achieves maximum success.
Is there a real person there? Somewhere?
Online purchasing for something as important and expensive as your yearly holiday is something many customers wouldn’t have even hesitated to do, pre-Covid.
Some studies are now showing that many travellers want the ability to speak to a real person about their holiday, if they need to, to provide that added reassurance.
If you make sure that your website offers visitors the option of being able to easily make contact with a real person this can increase the trust of the buyer and therefore make them more likely to make a purchase on your website.
Things such as adding a live chat feature, or a pop-up message offering an agent to call the customer can have a big effect, and the positioning, styling, messaging etc. can all be easily AB tested to find what best works for your website.
Again, using something as simple as a lower corner pop-up banner or hello bar that shows your customers that they have that option to chat, call or e-mail and deal with a real person (whether they actually use them or not) is a simple reassurance.
And in the current climate that may make the difference between them purchasing or not.
The travel industry is likely to continue to experience big changes and challenges throughout the coming months and years.
Continuing to use customer experience optimisation and adapting to the ever-changing expectations of your customers will be imperative to your business’ success.
The team at Webtrends Optimize are ready to help discuss your own personal website needs and help work with you to provide potential solutions, so feel free to reach out for a chat or a demonstration.