Travel online booking

According to a recent survey, 81% of people abandon online travel bookings, with 'just looking' the biggest reason for this.

53% abandon when they see the full price, though 87% said they would consider returning to the booking.

So what, if anything, can travel websites do about this?

Why do people abandon?

SaleCycle used a mixture of abandonment data from its clients in 2014 and a survey of 1, 000 consumers asking why they abandoned travel purchases.

These were the reasons given for abandoning purchases:

  • 39% were just looking and had more research to do.
  • 37% abandoned due to high prices and wanted to compare prices elsewhere.
  • 21% needed to check with other travellers before booking.
  • 13% felt the booking process was too long or the checkout too complicated.
  • 9% experienced technical issues.
  • 7% had issues with payments or the option they wanted was unavailable.

For some of these reasons, there is relatively little that online travel sites can do to reduce abandonment.

A holiday is one of the biggest purchases of the year for most people, so they will spend time researching and visiting multiple sites before making a decision.

According to Millward Brown stats, users booking holidays take up to 45 days and visit as many as 38 travel sites.

There are a lot of similar studies around with different numbers, but the central point is that people take time over travel purchases and like to compare sites.

So, for 'just looking' consumers, sites will find it hard to prevent abandonment as they just want to see what's available and are unlikely to commit before shopping around.

However, there's plenty sites can do about the other reasons, which we'll explore later in this article.

Where do customers abandon?

53% duck out when shown the total price. This suggests a fair amount of comparison shopping, but also a realisation amongst consumers that travel sites have a nasty habit of adding fees and charges during the booking process.

They may be heading far enough down the funnel to find the 'real' price, or some could be deterred by extra charges being applied along the way.

The other two reasons - being asked for personal or payment details - may just be the logical point to exit for comparison shoppers, but may also indicate problems with form design, or a lack of preferred payment options.

What can sites do to reduce abandonment?

Given that customers like to spend time visiting different sites and researching purchases, travel sites can't deal with all these abandonment reasons.

However, there's much they can do to deal with the obvious reasons, help customers research more effectively, and encourage them to return to book in the end.

Here are some suggestions...

Provide greater clarity on pricing and charges

Travel sites have a challenge here, as the final price can depend on many variables - time of flight chosen, extras like insurance and baggage allowance, and so on.

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