The travel sector has a uniquely complex online booking journey
The travel industry has been one of the sectors most significantly transformed by the digital revolution.
Whereas the market was once dominated by high-street tour operators and travel agencies, today the majority of consumers are comfortable with researching and booking their travel arrangements online whether it be via OTAs, aggregators or as direct bookings. According to ABTA’s ‘Holiday Habits’ report, four out of five people booked a holiday online in 2018, with most favouring a PC over mobile or tablet devices.
To keep the customer journey smooth and satisfactory, travel operators must manage highly complex transactions that rely on multiple APIs and third-party components – reservation systems, flight information and hotel data – working in unison. Not just once but every single time a potential customer interacts with the website on whatever device and platform they’re using: it’s a big undertaking. Your website must deliver a responsive, smooth booking experience on each and every occasion to avoid disappointing prospects before they hit the buy button.
Naturally, there are vast technical challenges when trying to provide such rich functionality on complex platforms with an efficient and seamless user experience. And all this delivered across multiple devices and over numerous visits, especially at peak booking times.
Top 5 issues that hamper online travel booking
Painfully slow third-party content
Sluggish performance is often the biggest bugbear for online travellers. And as third-party content is not only essential for an enriched UX but also accounts for the majority of performance issues, it’s a major challenge for the travel sector. To maintain optimal performance, 24/7 visibility of the performance of third-party components is critical. At times of peak traffic, you may want to consider ditching superfluous third-party content or calls that could impact page load times.
Because the efficiency of the booking experience depends on a variety of multiple APIs that provide access to reservations, flights – and even the weather forecast – your UX will only ever be as good as the weakest link in the chain. API performance could be under pressure because of the reliance on third parties or because you’re handling more traffic with greater numbers of mobile users. Either way, testing and monitoring key APIs will pinpoint problems before they impact customers.
Poor inventory management
There’s nothing more disappointing for online travellers than researching a holiday, flight or hotel only to discover there’s no availability when they come to book. Accurate, up-to-the-minute information on availability is paramount but it’s a tough nut to crack, especially at peak times. Instant access to actionable monitoring data will enable more effective inventory management. (Find out how SV monitoring helped Newmarket Holidays boost their product availability).
Dropping the ball on mobile functionality
While the majority of people book via desktop, around half of travel browsing takes place on a mobile, so it’s important to deliver the same quality of user experience across all devices. Monitoring with real mobile browsers will help you more accurately assess your visitors’ mobile experience. Be careful when integrating mobile or PWA functionality to ensure that it doesn’t clash with legacy web page functionality or page components – you don’t want to display buttons that can’t be clicked, for instance. Check out more examples of this type of issue on mobile.
Failing to deliver on personalisation
Online travellers love the personal touch. According to online travel group Amadeus, 86 percent of travellers consider, like or value personalised offers (ICEF Monitor) and the marketers who personalise their customers’ web visits typically see a 19 percent uplift in sales (Monetate). Personalisation in the travel industry should equate to brand loyalty but not if a sluggish, error prone booking experience outweighs the benefits. Whether it’s bespoke landing pages, targeted banners or upselling offers, this dynamic content offers more scope for glitches, so remember to test and monitor performance throughout.
Why invest in a proactive performance monitoring service?
You’ll meet the needs of a demanding audience…
The habits of online travel shoppers don’t necessarily map into those of the average internet profile – there’s much lower use of mobile devices for instance, coupled with a lengthy journey to conversion. If the booking process is too long or dogged by technical issues, you’re simply providing more reasons not to check out. Conversely, a fast, error-free and easy-to-use website will guide customers smoothly to the final transaction, helping to nudge you ahead of the competition and consolidate your brand reputation.
…And more effectively manage complex technology
Online travel is a complex affair and your tech team is busy. A fully managed monitoring service like thinkTribe’s simulates real customer journeys, helping you to identify any and all points of failure impacting your customer, whether in internal applications, third-party content or APIs. Proactive support swiftly brings errors and pinch points to your attention, with the ability to script and rescript journeys as you change your site. By tracking site functionality in this way, issues can be resolved quickly without impacting the UX – all with minimum input from your team.