How travel websites can differentiate themselves through personalization

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Today, travel companies are able to gather more customer data than ever before – including search and session history, previous purchases, and behavioral patterns. This data can be used to define buyer personas, and map content to users’ interests to ‘get personal’ on the web.

The benefits of personalization are evident. In the Personalization in Travel report, we explore personalization in practice with case studies and results from leading travel brands such as Emirates and Thomas cook. 

So, why aren’t all travel sites jumping on the opportunity to drive revenue by using data and insights to create richer, more personalized online experiences?

One answer - the sheer amount of data. The travel industry collects such huge quantities of data the development teams aren't able to cope, they are in need of support, and this is where a marketing personalization leader like Qubit can help.

To see how this works, let’s first look at the key online characteristics of the travel industry: 

  • Highly competitive: users visit an average of 22 sites competing for a sale·   
  • Long visitor paths: an average of 15 or more site visits before purchase·   
  • Focus on search: over 90% of users start with search·   
  • Open to suggestions: 40% of users don’t know where they want to go on their first visit·   
  • Multi-Channel: Many users begin by browsing on a mobile, but most purchase on a PC·   
  • Up-sell/Cross-sell opportunity: users who purchase more than once, usually do so within three days of original purchase·   
  • Low conversion: 89% of users abandon their basket at checkout


Here are four lessons every travel industry marketer should consider to boost sales.

Welcome new users. Make them return.

 

 

Insight: Users visiting the site for the first time may need extra information or added incentives to stay engaged and not leave to a competitor.

Action: Provide first time visitors a welcome message highlighting the USPs to capture interest. Provide returning visitors a ‘Welcome Back’ message to increase engagement.

Example: Why not engage the visitor with your brand values to build brand equity and trust? Or indeed, point them to your editorial content to provide them with inspiration for their holiday. 

Result: By driving engagement early, travellers are more likely to return to the site and continue down the purchase path.

Provide personalized, localized offerings. Get them engaged.

Insight: On browsing a travel site, users don’t always know where they want to go or when. Users are often price sensitive, and more likely to respond to personalized and localised offers.

Action: Provide travelers with targeted offerings on the homepage, based on data such as past searches, weather, location, price, and past purchases.

Example: If it’s cold and rainy in Manchester, use geo-targeting to showcase warm-weather getaways. Or, if a user keeps searching for Barcelona – notify of a seat sale approaching.

Result: Providing more relevant, engaging offers will drive conversion and reduce drop-off more than blanket messaging that may or may not resonate.

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High value customers drive greatest revenue. Keep them.

Insight: High value customers can be identified by data such as mileage, spend, frequency, and propensity to use services. These customers are critical to the bottom line as they frequently return and have a high degree of loyalty.

Action: Segment customers and reward high value customers with targeted offers and messaging.

Example: Highlight your existing offers to continue engaging high value customers, or invite them to join your email list for the latest offers as VIPs. 

Result: By engaging and rewarding highest value customers, it gives them more reason to stay loyal and keep spending. Offers can be compelling whilst still being commercially viable because you are only targeting a small subset of users.

Most users abandon at checkout. Stop them.

Insight: Roughly 90% of travel site visitors abandon their purchase after reaching the checkout. Many travel companies currently have no site abandonment tools in place, which is a major lost opportunity.

Action: Use site abandonment personalizations to provide a final incentive to convert at the critical checkout moment.

Example: Leverage scarcity through urgency messaging to ensure that your visitor have an incentive to purchase now. 

Result: By providing customers with the right messaging at the time of checkout, it increases the likeliness to convert. For customers who are comparing a range of travel providers, this could be a deciding factor to not go to a competitor.

Travelo last minute deal

For even more ways to personalize this year, check out the Personalization in Travel report.                                                

Download now

A variant of this article appeared in January 2015. 

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