How are you fairing? Is your website supporting business growth? Is your website inspiring users? Are users dropping out of the sales funnel?
If you don’t know the answer to the above, I suspect you probably could be performing better. Knowledge is power after all. Most of the travel brands I’ve worked with have data, lots of it, too much perhaps. And data is great, but insight is much better. At 3Sixty we like to combine both quant and qual data to gather real insights which then shape decisions.
Here are the foundations for a travel website that performs. This list isn’t exhaustive, but it should act as a high-level blueprint whilst shining a little light into the 3Sixty process.
Start with objectives
As director or member of the leadership team may have very clear goals in mind. The strategic growth of the business, the role in which digital plays in driving this growth (but it always surprises me, especially in global organisations) how little awareness of these objectives there is throughout the wider business.
So start by defining precise objectives. What revenue growth do we want to see? What do we need to happen in order to achieve this: drive more traffic, increase average order value, boost website conversion? KPI’s need to be clearly defined, shared, understood and embraced by the whole team.
Put the user at the heart of your strategy
Customers define your success, without customers you are nothing. The business objectives provide the vision, but users help us get there. So we start with the who. Who are your users? What are their behaviours – needs, wants and preferences? We like to establish key personas and then review the user journey to see how well supported these key user groups are.
If you’ve got the basic user understanding in place, can you utilise digital to further enhance their experience? If you know your audience is looking for deals, have a clearly labelled deals section, if they are cash rich but time poor, serve up messaging around convenience and customer service. It’s basic stuff but often overlooked.
Personalisation is something that is increasingly expected, in fact, 61% of users now expect brands to tailor experiences based on their preferences, Google, 2018. And it makes sense, people are time poor; convenience and accuracy are vital. Personalisation, coupled with the ability to strategically promote products that align with business objectives create a nice sweet spot between business and user need.
Showcase what makes you special
Throughout all touch points with your brand, the users need to feel confident that you are the right brand for them. Is your proposition clear? Are you showcasing your brand pillars? Is it clear to users what sets you apart? Trust marks can be used to provide credibility such as awards & accreditations, alongside user-generated reviews and ratings (UGC). UGC can be scary, but let’s face it if you are consistently getting poor reviews there are bigger issues than your website
Looking at the specifics, from a travel point of view, lots of brands are falling down with their search. For those of you with 100’s or 1000’s of holiday options/itineraries/packages, searching and filtering can be a pain point for users. You need to be able to effectively inform and inspire your audience. For those that know exactly what they are looking for — they need to be able to find it quickly. For those that need a helping hand — you need to inspire. And once your prospect has found a suitable option for them, let them shortlist, compare and review.
Be helpful, for holiday goers, there are lots of things to consider. Is this hotel kid friendly? Are there gluten free options? Will it be hot? What is included? The website needs to have the content to support the questions prospects need answering. The ‘holiday/trip page’ needs to provide summary content and support page scanning, whilst allowing the user to delve deeper into the content if they need.
It’s a difficult landscape and user expectations are growing all the time. Whilst you might be competing with XXX travel brand who also happen to target a super luxury audience for activity based package holidays for example. Users aren’t comparing your digital experience to them, but to the likes of Air BnB & Uber. An intuitive, functional and inspiring solution is integral to digital success.
Capture and utilise data
According to Expedia, 2018, the average user is now visiting 38 travel websites before purchasing! To your competitor’s sites, alternative providers, review websites and travel guides. Etc. So whilst we want our websites to be so amazing that people want to purchase there and then – the majority won’t.
If the website has done its job, the user will have found a holiday that meets their needs, they will then go away to various sites to validate their thinking. To help with conversion, we need to capture their data and ensure we stay front of mind. We should then feed this into a well thought through digital comms strategy which involves regular touch points. Depending on your business, you can incentivise action, further inspire the user regarding the destination/holiday, or showcase the brand.
So if the above is all in place, we are onto optimisation. Page speed is a pain point for customers and a challenge for brands, improving page speed drives conversion and also boosts SEO performance. From an SEO point of view, keep on top of trends, produce great content and put users first, to help ensure you’re staying ahead of the competition. Look to commit to a well structured A/B testing programme. Constant evaluation and optimisation can only drive the business forward. You will either see uplifts or gain valuable insight, so there is really no reason not to invest.
There is a lot more than could and should be done, but this is an overview of some of the key considerations.
So are you crushing it?
If you aren’t 100% confident, go and find out by running a user test, each time we learn so much. We’d be happy to use our experience to appraise your website. Equally, you can do this in-house, look at your data, speak to your telesales team, they will often get invaluable feedback directly from users. For a quick and dirty approach get a survey on the website and be prepared for some potentially challenging feedback.