The online customer experience is now an integral part of travel booking, whether it is for business or leisure.
In travel, an optimized browsing and booking experience is crucial to ensuring conversion and promoting brand loyalty. As such, businesses should pay special attention to making sure every customer has a thoroughly personalized, seamless experience at every digital touchpoint. Here, we discuss how the online travel booking experience can be augmented to bring customer service to the fore.
Despite numerous technological advancements, many customers still encounter obstacles when booking travel online. This can be the case even for the simplest of tasks, such as completing, changing or cancelling reservations. A recent Forrester report concluded that 1 in 5 American leisure travelers had encountered problems with these simple transactions.
To provide the best possible customer service, companies should work to make simple transactions as straightforward as possible. Therefore, when considering online booking system functionality, companies should ask themselves a series of key questions:
- Can visitors effectively search the site to find the desired product?
- Do they leave the site after the first set of search results are returned? Or do they progress to the checkout before abandoning the transaction to do more research?
- Of those who do not convert, do any trends emerge? For instance, do visitors exit on a particular page?
Once a business answers these questions, analysis can reveal patterns and scenarios which influence customer behavior. From here, companies can seek to address the factors that causes users to halt the travel booking process.
Addressing problem areas
Through analyzing the interactions, requests and behavior, companies can begin to address issues discouraging conversions. Through data collection, testing and analysis, business can construct accurate customer profiles and adapt the travel booking journey to fit their needs. For instance, a common scenario is that a potential customer might abandon the process immediately before the booking is complete. This is often because some vital information is presented too late in the customer journey, thus halting the conversion.
Testing and analysis
To identify exactly what information the website should present at what stage, companies can use either Continuous A/B or Multivariate testing. These frameworks can enable companies to optimize their websites and influence customer behavior. For example, by testing content variations of any given page, companies can identify which layout or interface leads to increased engagement and conversions. Furthermore, these testing methods can also help a business to identify if a certain customer segment is more likely to abandon the booking process than others.
It is also entirely possible that a booking process may need additional features to deliver the best possible customer experience. To illustrate, many people will consult Google Maps to check the proximity of a hotel to restaurants, bars and attractions. As a result, embedding Google Maps directly into your site can be a valuable resource. This will discourage customers from leaving your website, streamlining conversions. Furthermore, many customers value peer review websites. Therefore, to maintain focus on your site, display positive TripAdvisor, Yelp or Google Reviews to discourage customers from leaving to do further research. Subsequently, customers are more likely to convert as they are free from distractions.
Customer-centric: The new culture in travel booking
Customer service is becoming the primary product differentiator – so promoting a customer-centric culture is crucial to success. Of course, the suggestions above are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to creating a fully personalized, frictionless customer experience – but investing resources into digital customer service is arguably today’s most significant business imperative. Through gaining a deeper understanding of customers’ needs, aims and desires, businesses can increase bookings, loyalty and revenue.