The importance of user experience in the travel industry

Basket abandonment rate in travel bookings is holding steady at a mind-blowing 80-85%

At this year’s Travel Directors’ Summit our very own Mel Harrison presented a keynote on the importance of user experience in the travel industry and highlighted some of the emerging trends for 2016 that a recent research project by the team at Goodman Fox had surfaced.

In the UK we spend in excess of £30 billion on international tourism. According to the World Tourism Organisation the UK spent just over £34 billion on international travel in 2014 – pipped at the post by China, the USA and Germany. And this figure is set to increase. Recent data (Bing) shows that 1 in 3 Brits plan to spend more on their holiday in the coming 12 months than they did last year.

I think that it’s fair to say that the opportunity is large and that it is getting larger.

Melanie Harrison, MD, Goodman Fox

UX and Travel Industry

It’s interesting to note that the travel industry market is estimated by the WTO to be worth in the region of £30billion (and growing year on year) that almost the entire focus of online marketing spend by travel operators goes towards running PPC, SEO, and other SEM campaigns. That wouldn’t be unusual in itself, especially as the travel industry is gearing up to spend even more with Google and others in 2016, but what is staggering is that this is being spent whilst the average basket abandonment rate in travel bookings is holding steady at a mind-blowing 80-85%, and yet very few online travel agents are looking at how they can increase their conversions.

I can’t think of any ecommerce retailers who would entertain abandonment rates anywhere near those levels.

Mel went on to highlight the importance of user experience as a conversion factor, citing numerous studies performed recently in the US that seem to demonstrate that for every $1 spent on improving user experience companies can expect to see a $2-$100 return. This viewpoint was reinforced in a recent survey by econsultancy which found that 9 out of 10 of their respondents agreed that “Good user experience just makes sense.

Let’s just talk about your virtual shop window for a second… Last year, 148.3 million bookings were made online (eMarketer). Euromonitor estimates that, by 2017, more than 30% of online travel bookings (by value) will be made on mobile devices.

In this constantly connected world we live in it is imperative that brands ensure that they deliver a seamless online experience regardless of device.

You’ll hear every web agency in the world talking about Responsive Design where your website works across different devices. Responsive is good, but Adaptive Design is where the smart money is – one size does not fit all.

Melanie Harrison, MD, Goodman Fox

We’re working with a small group of travel operators and online travel agents and we’re fortunate that this group each already understand the importance of joining up great webdesign with an online experience that works seamlessly and hands-off nicely to the real-world customer experience teams who ensure that each and every customer has an amazing holiday.

What we’re really keen to see though is how an increase in a focus on user experience this year leads to an increase in customer retention and rebooks for next year’s holiday season. That really will be something to celebrate!

Travel industry and user experience

If you’re interested in hearing more about how good user experiences drive increases in revenue then please get in touch with Mel. She’d love to hear from you and is more than happy to talk you through our research and what this could mean for your business.

* The Travel Directors’ Summit is an annual event organised by the charismatic travel industry expert Jonathan Wall of Elman Wall attracting 200 owners and directors of UK tour operators, leading leisure retail agencies and TMCs. Attended by the Heads of all leading trade associations, the event receives widespread acclaim and trade media coverage.

Written by Rob Harrison

Rob is a digital engagement specialist for Goodman Fox with over 15 years experience in building successful online experiences for the healthcare, technology, and property sectors.

MSD Logo
PRH logo
United Medicine logo
Bertelsmann logo