SOURCE: Webtrends

Webtrends

May 28, 2015 08:00 ET

Webtrends Shares 4 Best Practices to Boost Travel Website Bookings

PORTLAND, OR--(Marketwired - May 28, 2015) - Online travel booking is one of the most competitive markets in the digital world today. With so many travel booking companies and suppliers deploying a wide range of services and fierce sales tactics to turn 'lookers' into 'bookers' -- specialized discounts, group deals, customer loyalty programs and more -- it can be challenging for travel marketers to know where they can gain a competitive advantage and boost sales ahead of this year's peak summer travel season.

One proven strategy for success that is often overlooked is going back to the basics and understanding the foundations of your brand's digital presence and booking funnel. According to market research firm PhoCusWright, consumers use 6.5 sites and devices on average to research before booking travel. With potential customers moving all over the digital map when researching their travel plans, marketers need to understand how to simplify, contextualize and link engagement between each digital touch point so that when a consumer enters a brand's booking funnel, they stay there until a purchase is made.

When perfected, the booking funnel can be one of your most profitable marketing assets. It can be a powerful tool to not just convert potential customers, but also build loyalty through providing a seamless and more personalized brand experience. Online train ticket retailer in the UK and client of Webtrends, redspottedhanky.com, experienced this firsthand, increasing its bookings by more than 5 percent by going through the process of better understanding its customers and running a multitude of tests on its booking funnel.

For travel brands wanting to get ahead in the game for this year's peak summer season, below are four best practices for perfecting the travel booking experience:

Best Practice 1: Understand the travel visitor and his or her purchase process

Understand the buyer's journey and map your digital data to its key phases. Ensure you are able to analyze this journey as it spans different access channels providing a single view of a visitor. Understand the potential buyer's shopping behavior, device usage, communication preferences and how well this information can be used to customize his or her digital experience. Consider the different segments of travelers that visit your site -- both known and unknown -- as well as the attributes that can be used to tailor their experiences with your brand.

Best Practice 2: Measure all relevant data points within the booking process

It's imperative to collect robust data on the full booking process. Be sure that you can identify each step uniquely, and that all entry and exit paths for each step are captured and reviewed on a regular basis. Some steps are common to all channels, but others might be unique or different depending on the channel. Collect full error information so that corrective actions can be prioritized upon the impacted visitor segments. Also collect intra-page activity such as link activity, form completion and lightbox information to help understand both conversion enhancers and barriers to the sale.

Best Practice 3: Optimize for device type as matched to the appropriate stage of the customer journey

Once you've measured the data points, you can analyze each point in your funnel with an eye toward device type. Identify shortcomings that are specific to one device -- and fix them. Instrument your mobile apps properly to maximize data collection for tablet and phone, as well as any other non-standard booking channels (i.e. set-top box, gaming station, smart TV, etc.). Ensure your booking funnel is optimized for each of these device types.

Best Practice 4: Ensure optimal content is driving quality traffic to your booking funnel

Measure the content and entry points that are driving the best results. Determine which content is appealing at each stage of the booking process. Content should be tested on an A/B or multivariate basis regularly. Pathing and aggregate event data are paramount, as their measurement will drive a deeper understanding of the value of content on the booking process. Tailor content based upon observed patterns that historically have led to a booking or to other monetization opportunities, such as increasing partner or ad revenue when a conversion is not imminent.

For more on how to perfect the travel booking funnel, read the full report on the Top Ten Best Practices to Optimize the Booking Funnel.

Useful links:
Webtrends Optimize Overview
Webtrends Twitter: @Webtrends

About Webtrends
For more than 20 years, Webtrends has helped companies make sense of their customer data to drive digital marketing success. By combining innovative technology with our team of trusted and creative advisors, our solutions are designed to provide actionable insights, increase customer engagement and boost revenue. 

We partner with companies at all levels of digital maturity and offer data-driven marketing solutions in measurement and optimization. We work closely with approximately 2,000 global brands including Microsoft, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Kimberly-Clark, HSBC, Marks & Spencer, npower, BMW, Toyota, The Telegraph, Lastminute.com and many more.

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