Taking into account the non linear behavior of the customer in travel bookings

27 sept. 2010 | Written by Julia

Whatever their roles in the travel industry, suppliers and distributors have the same goal: raise their revenues. And to achieve this goal, the two main leverages consist in increasing the number of bookings and increase the value of the bookings.

Both will depend of your website conversion rate and the quality of the traffic you drive in it. But as an online marketer, to improve conversion and qualified traffic you need to deeply know your customers.

You can divide your customers into segments, engage conversation with them, personalize your marketing actions… These are good points that will for sure improve your performances, but they don’t consider the root of the question. Moreover depending of his aim (family trip, romantic weekend, business travel…) a same customer can have different behaviors.

You need to know how they are searching your products and why they book or don’t book your products when they visit your website. These are the fundamental questions, but also the most difficult points because nobody knows the answers.

The only certitude is that customers’ behaviors are not linear. When they book a travel product, they will visit 22 websites before (according to a Google research), being exposed to a lot of advertisements (online and offline) and to friends recommendations, so they will do numerous back-and-forth between several players of the travel industry.

Thus, the question will be how to deal with this lack of understanding of the customer to setup a strategy and increase revenues?

Optimizing website conversion

They are a lot of recommendations concerning website optimization. Generally they all go in the direction that simple is better. But due to the amount of time we spend on the web, our experience is too influenced and we are no capable of doing simple any more. Moreover, we have a lot of received ideas that influence our way of thinking the perfect customer experience. Confront your ideas to Which test won,  you will be surprised.

So to understand the difficulty customers are facing the best way is to run tests. The aim is to find how to make your web site relevant and compelling to your audience. To do that, numerous tools are available like /B split testing, multivariable testing, clicks mapping… All these tools will provide you data to understand what is not working. But they will never tell why, so to get this information you need to interact with your customers using call center feedbacks, live chat, usability test, survey…

Generate qualified traffic

Concerning the traffic, the more qualified it is, the more it will convert on the website. However, the difficulty is that there is not straight line from an ad to a purchase. In fact, a customer can use many paths to arrive on your website and being exposed to several ads.

In the hotel industry 40% of the customers found hotel website by tipping their name in a search engine. That makes the metric completely wrong because you don’t know from where these customers are coming from. They can have been exposed to an offline ad, seen a special promotion, discovered the hotel on an affiliate website…

So to be able to understand the multi ways your customers used, you need first to adopt analytic tools that go beyond the “last click wins” model. This model attributes the sale to the last marketing channel the customer had been exposed, which is a wrong approach.

So, the keys to better understand travelers’ online behaviors are tests and experimentations. The use of the  right tools in site and on your marketing channels will lead you to the right conclusions and help to improve the pertinence and the user experience of your web site.

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