How Online Travel Agents are Winning at eCommerce Optimization

Nirali Patel

05 Mar 2018

Global travel is an ever-changing market. Each year there are new statistics highlighting current trends, and forecasting new ones.

Naturally, it’s important for travel companies to keep up and to use the information to optimize their online booking experience. But how can you help your customers make more confident buying decisions, and in turn increase your conversions? The answer is simple really – social proof.

Some of the key travel trends in 2017 were predicted in the 2016 ABTA ‘Holiday Habits Report’. Forecasts predicted that holidaymakers would visit bolder destinations, and that almost a quarter of travellers would spend more. Based on the same ABTA report, and the trends that we’re currently seeing from the online travel agents that Taggstar works with, we’ve listed some the changing travel habits of 2018. Taggstar’s social proof messages are delivering an average 2.5% conversion rate uplift for some of the largest online travel brands.That’s millions in incremental revenue.

Here’s how our customers are using social proof to help travellers make more confident buying decisions, and help drive extra online conversions.

1) What types of holidays are being booked?

With the recent political climate, it’s unsurprising that many people are choosing to travel to destinations that they perceive to be safer. Naturally, this is having a negative effect on the popularity of some previously frequented holiday destinations. Travellers are now also opting for city breaks over beach holidays. This is in line with the ABTA report showing that 53% of people are choosing a city break, versus the 38% still opting for beach a holiday. This shift is impacting on the length of holidays – the number of short getaways (typically correlating to city breaks) has increased slightly, while longer holidays (7+ nights) seem to be decreasing in popularity.

Regardless of the length of the holiday, it seems all holidaymakers have one thing in common – their interest in convenience. This is seen in the increase of package holidays being booked, which include flights, hotel and travel. Holidaymakers, (particularly those who fall into the 65+ demographic) like the feeling of having everything taken care of.

Despite various locations being deemed safe for travel, many people remain skeptical. By presenting your shoppers with the behavior of the crowd, you can factually show travellers that other people are booking these locations, and increase trust in the destination. For someone who’s unsure whether or not they want to spend their summer in Turkey, knowing that “45 others have looked at this location the last hour” or that “this location has been booked 100+ times in the last 7 days” will help them to be more confident.

2) Who are people travelling with?

Research has shown that the majority of holidaymakers are either travelling with their partners or their immediate family. These groups are followed by a third – those who opt to travel alone. Each of these distinct groups will have specific requirements which are deal breakers when it comes to selecting a hotel or resort.

For example, those travelling with their significant other might be interested in an ‘adult only’ hotel, somewhere peaceful, perhaps offering spa facilities. While someone travelling with their immediate family, and possibly young children, might be wondering what type of activities and entertainment are on offer. Their priority might be how child friendly the hotel is, or even how deep the pool is. These deal breakers will be completely different for someone who’s travelling alone. Your solo traveller, who might be a student on a gap year, may be more interested in the local nightlife, proximity to bars and restaurants, or how safe and secure the resort is.

With this level of diversity existing among travellers, how do you make it easier for a potential customer to choose the right hotel or resort for them? Using social proof review messaging. This works by aggregating your review data and presenting the customer with short snippets of information, such as ‘90% of people gave this 5 stars for nightlife’, ‘85% of people rated this hotel excellent for young families’ or ‘100% of people would recommend the spa facilities’. By presenting the relevant data in a simple message on the search results page, or product details page to your customer, you save them the hassle of having to read through numerous reviews to make a decision.

3) How are people choosing to book their holidays?

While in-store and phone bookings remain popular with roughly a fifth of travellers the majority of people booking holidays are doing it online. According to the ABTA report, typically, young families with children under five are the group most likely to book a holiday in-store and older travellers aged 65+ are most likely to book via phone. However, more than three quarters of the UK population are booking online, and the majority of people are still choosing desktop as their preferred device. Usability issues including the ability to compare across multiple screens, form filling and reading longer-form webpages, cause more than half of the population to say they find booking on a mobile device to be hard, (when compared to a desktop). Online travel agents are looking at the mobile customer experience in detail to improve conversions.

Taggstar’s social proof messaging works across desktop, tablet and mobile. It’s fully responsive and can be used on the search results page, accommodation details page and through the checkout. While it may be harder to research a holiday and navigate on a smaller screen, with social proof messaging – you don’t have to! Our messaging tells travellers exactly how popular a destination is, notifies them of any special promotions and provides handy snapshots of reviews and ratings, all without having to click away from your website.

Interested in learning more? You can download our ‘Tips for Using Social Proof in Travel’ or talk to Taggstar to arrange a trial. We’re working with some of the largest international eCommerce brands and delivering on average a 2.7% conversion uplift!

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