Your Travel Website Needs to Be More Than a Booking Engine

The days when online interaction between travel agents and their customers consisted simply of a few clicks to confirm a booking are increasingly disappearing.

No Surprises

Whatever might have been the case in the past with travel agents operating in specialist sectors of the industry, today the world is different.  Holiday providers are desperately keen to win a greater share of the end customer’s wallet and to do that, they’re looking at two things:

  • a diversification of the propositions they offer;
  • their online customer engagement models, seeking to retain the customer for a broader range of engagement and experience.

The first point should be something of a no-brainer. 

Many travel agents are looking at the rapid diversification and success of organisations such as Airbnb, realising that such companies are no longer just about providing (e.g.) accommodation.  As companies increasingly broaden their propositions, they are eating into the territory of some travel agents who still maintain a silo approach of handling only, say, flights and accommodation.

If the first point is recognised, the position with the second point is more subtle.

The key point here is, very simply, once you got your customer on your site, you want to make sure they stay there and spend as much money with you as possible. That’s where travel website designers can make a big difference.

Customer Retention is Important

Of course, having the basic propositions in place is critically important.  It doesn’t matter how attractive your travel website designers have made your website, if you have nothing to sell then your customer engagement is likely to be rather transitory!

However, having different sales propositions to put to the customer, means you’ll have to work hard to:

  • capture their further attention after they’ve already engaged with you in the context of the primary purpose for their visit and;
  • present other options you have available in order to retain their interest and get them sourcing the other activities with you rather than your competitors.

There is a good map here to follow.  One only has to look at the budget airlines to see how slick their added-value sales attempts are in ancillary areas such as car hire, accommodation and excursions etc.

Moving your customer from the initial reason for visiting your site to generating a greater share of wallet sales requires expert site design and an in-depth understanding of buyer behaviours. Those skills need to be applied by travel website designers and result in an enhanced customer experience.

What is “The Customer Experience”?

Some companies mistakenly believe that this is essentially about putting a lot of individual ads on your confirmation page for the initial sale or quote etc.  The theory goes that your customer will be tempted by the ads and then start clicking and booking added services.

Unfortunately, it’s not quite so simple!

Your website needs to be designed so that it delivers the richest possible customer experience.  The moment you start thinking of it merely as a click-and-book platform, you may be missing opportunities.

Classic customer experience concepts to consider here include:

  • curated content, essentially meaning that you are extremely selective about what you present to your customer;
  • constructing snapshot propositions that are easy to digest in advance and which convey their message up-front to the customer;
  • differentiation – meaning not only making your site look appealing but also different (in a positive sense!) to your competition;
  • process flows that reflect the customer’s practices and needs – rather than those that seemed a good idea to someone else;
  • an integrated and coherent consumer experience on your site, rather than having multiple propositions, all of which are different to each other and which the customer has to “go hunting” to try and find.

This is only the very briefest overview of what is a critically important subject.  Use the right professional assistance and you’ll be positioned to prosper.  Simply littering your pages with ads on a booking engine basis and the chances are that your share of wallet propositions will be ignored.

Next Steps

Contact us today to see how we at CSI Media can help you create a beautiful travel website that integrates all the latest technology, whilst delivering engaging, intuitive, user experiences that maximise enquiries and bookings.