Travel Websites Abandonment: Don’t Sit Around, ACT

Roughly 84% of world-wide users in travel websites, abandon the purchase process. Only 58% complete the process and get to the confirmation stage.

Online Travel Agencies (OTA), such as AIRBNB, has the highest abandonment rate (90%), while other travel industries have lower rates (flights — 80%, hotels, car rentals and cruise agencies — 70%).

Those rates definitely take their toll on travel websites.
 
Why is it?
It can be a result of any number of the following reasons:
 
Users tend to “hop” around several sources. With so many options at our fingertips, market research and price comparison have become routine. 43% will abandon the purchase process due to high prices. Didn’t find what you looked for? No problem, go to the next provider.

Nowadays purchase funnel isn’t linear but a multi-stage, multi-screen process. The average user goes through several websites on his/her way to purchase (40% claim they check 3 to 5 websites). In addition, all these searches are being done with several different devices (TV ad which lead to initial smartphone search, which ultimately lead to a purchase via PC or tablet).

More than half the users don’t pre-determine their destination. They check, hop from one website to the other, compare prices and sometimes wait for the right offer to pop up. 41% do their price comparison without any intention to make a purchase. That makes travel websites’ time-to-purchase 2 times longer compared to other retail websites.

About 88% of hotel and travel searchers are affected by online reviews. Web reviews have become credible recommendations and have significant impact on the user’s decision making process. Over half of the users won’t make a reservation in a hotel which has no online reviews at all. Research found each review star adds 9% to the hotel’s revenues. Not a minor factor.

Roughly 43% of smartphone users begin the purchase process via their mobile device, but complete it in “big screen” devices (PC, tablet, laptop). Many users are still not sure about making big, complex online reservations on mobile devices, hence even if they do fill the shopping cart — they only use it as a “wish list”.

PCs and tablets allow users to multi-tab around several sources at once, something which mobile devices are yet to provide. Despite all that, mobile reservations are on the rise YOY, hence making your website mobile friendly is critical.

About 15% of users are “lost on the way” due to technical difficulties: complex purchase funnel (7.3%), technical issues (4.9%), limited payment options (3%), etc.

The rise of travel aggregators is taking over a large chunk of market share, which up until 5 years ago was held almost exclusively by hotels. Once upon a time users would search for “jerusalem hotels”; now they search for “booking”, “agoda”, and “trip advisor”. That is definitely something to be reckoned with.

Bring them back
First and foremost one must understand one’s target audience. An experienced traveler conducts himself differently compared to a bi-yearly traveler. A new user will probably have a much longer purchase funnel, due to ongoing research and website “zig zagging”. “Veteran” users usually know what they want, hence their funnel is much shorter.

Delivering the exact message to the right audience at the right time, is key for success. One of the best proven method to do that is using some form of remarketing.
 
Research found only 8% of shopping cart abandoners will come back to complete their purchase. Remarketing will increase that number to 18% — 20%, and in addition will magically make the users spend 55% more, compared to those who didn’t abandon the funnel early on.

A well-handled cart abandonment — helps yield a better revenue.
 
When google and facebook is concerned, there’s a 76% chance users will click a remarketing ad and not a usual display ad. That’s not something travel websites can afford to miss.

E-mail remarketing was also found to be highly efficient in returning cart abandoners. American Airlines initiated a unique e-mail remarketing program in 2013: each cart abandoner received a personal e-mail within 24 hours.
 
How did that go for them, you ask?
300% increase in e-mail openings.
200% increase in CTR.
400% increase in conversions.

When you check global e-mail marketing data and understand it has to highest ROI among all digital marketing methods ($39 for each $1 spent) — you quickly realize why this works so beautifully.

Furthermore, remarketing is one of the most powerful tools available for travel websites (and indeed every website or business). It’s easy to use, and the costs are significantly lower in comparison to other forms of paid advertising.
 
To conclude
The purchase process is complex, no matter which website is concerned. No wonder the global e-commerce shopping cart abandonment rate is currently estimated to be 90%. Make sure to keep track of your users, and see if they get what they came for. Even small changes can and will make big differences.

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