SOURCE: Monetate

Monetate

October 24, 2012 09:00 ET

Moving Travelers From Look to Book: Monetate Shares 10 Tips for Travel Website Optimization

PHILADELPHIA, PA--(Marketwire - Oct 24, 2012) - The number of consumers researching and booking trips online continues to soar; in 2011, 62 percent of U.S. adults with Internet access purchased a leisure trip online.1 As a result, online travel marketers are placing more importance on personalizing travel websites to provide intuitive customer experiences that drive higher booking rates and greater revenue.

"There is a wealth of volunteered information and situational data around online travel and hospitality bookings," said Kurt Heinemann, Chief Marketing Officer at Monetate, a leading provider of testing, targeting and personalization technology. "Marketers must take advantage of this information and react in real time to create the most relevant experience for their customers. In the hyper-competitive world of online travel, this ability to differentiate based on successful and intuitive customer experiences is critical."

(Click here to see the Recorded webinar, Personalizing the Online Travel Experience)

In its work with leading travel brands, Monetate has identified ten ways for travel and tourism sites to create online experiences that facilitate the move from "look to book":

1. Maintain message consistency. Create a seamless conversation throughout the website visit by matching the entire website session with each inbound channel and campaign. For example, synchronize an affiliate channel with your website via a banner that assures the customer that they have come to the right place to redeem the offer or view the promoted content. 
2. Offer local details through geo-targeting. Travel brands that market directly to the needs, tastes and trends of buyers based on their current location or destination gain a competitive advantage. Personalize your web content by including regionally-flavored graphics, testimonials, and badging. 
3. Capitalize on current weather conditions. Consider a visitor's location and weather conditions and display options for an appropriate getaway (think Caribbean offers to people visiting from an area with below freezing temperatures). Once booked, highlight potential delays or hiccups due to weather and provide alternative travel options or other tips. Promote relevant deals and activities based on the real-time weather conditions of the website visitor.
4. Customize the experience with destination targeting. After travelers choose their destination, use page real estate to market add-ons, such as special savings on tours, recreation, dining, and other activities relevant to their stay.
5. Prompt immediate loyalty club sign-in with a lightbox. Unlike in ecommerce, where customers are reluctant to register before shopping, travel shoppers know that signing into a travel site's loyalty club can unlock advantages. Use a light box for loyalty club sign-in when the customer first arrives at the site; this will provides users with the security of knowing that they are accruing rewards and allows the travel site to show offers based on the customers preferences, previous purchases and location. 
6. Promote next threshold/level for loyalty programs. Rewards club members are your most valuable customers; don't settle for simply showing them their status or points total. Present real-time calculations that show customers how close they are to reaching the next status level or qualifying for a free upgrade, trip or other benefit, and provide recommendations on how your customers can use their points once they reach elite status. Combine data from loyalty programs with predictive attributes of previous visitors to lead your customers through the booking funnel.
7. Promote features and benefits through badging. Use badging to help customers find what's relevant to them, and test badges regularly on your website's search results pages, category pages or your home page. Call attention to specific offers, such as a newly-renovated floor of hotel rooms, popular selections of other travelers, or free Wi-Fi, to encourage sales and conversions. Take it to the next level by using geo-targeting and behavioral data to target product badges by visitor segment.
8. Segment new versus returning visitors. Segmenting new and returning visitors and serving them messages accordingly is a proven method to increase bookings and other key metrics. Make different recommendations for each group, such as showing the most popular destinations for new visitors while displaying new offers for returning visitors.
9. Test, test, test. It is critical to test changes to your navigation and other elements of the website before deploying them site-wide. Try swapping navigation elements -- even hide them altogether -- or highlight specific items based on known customer segments, such as gender, location, and most-popular selections.
10. Optimize for the fastest-growing traffic source: tablets. By 2015, more than 25% of the U.S. population will use an iPad at least once per month.2 Create an intuitive tablet experience. Increase the size of buttons to help tablet users effortlessly move around your website, and try implementing features like predictive search, as fewer keypad strokes result in a better user experience on a tablet.

To learn more about how Monetate can help your business personalize the online experience for your customers to drive greater revenue, visit www.monetate.com.

About Monetate
Monetate drives billions of dollars of revenue every year for some of the best-known brands in the world, including Best Buy, Frontier Airlines, Aeropostale, The Sports Authority, and PETCO. The company's comprehensive product suite and conversion expertise enable marketers to deliver a more relevant customer experience with unprecedented agility.

Monetate's solutions, which combine A/B and multivariate testing with behavioral targeting, merchandising and product recommendations, are used by global brands across a spectrum of industries. Monetate enables brands to use Big Data to increase conversions by creating a more relevant online experience.

Leading marketers rely on Monetate's cloud-based browser technology to achieve a new level of speed and control, allowing them to run 16 times more optimization campaigns compared to industry averages. The Monetate Agility Suite includes advanced products for testing, merchandising, targeting, and cross-channel consistency, providing an opportunity to bypass IT restraints and react in real time to customer demands. Monetate also helps marketers implement best practices and drive online revenue through its expert strategic services and content publishing teams. For more information visit http://monetate.com/ or follow us on Twitter @Monetate.

1 Infographic from Monetate.com, "Tactics to Improve the Online Travel-Planning Process."

2 Infographic from Monetate.com, "Couch Commerce: How Tablet Shoppers Are Changing Online Sales."

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