Online travel agencies (OTAs) persistently face the challenge of shopping cart abandonment; it certainly demands a nuanced approach. A recent finding from Travelport underscores a critical trend — 64% of travelers, having explored trips on an OTA, opt to book directly with suppliers.
It prompts a crucial question: where do OTAs stumble, and how can they refine the traveler journey for enhanced conversions?
This article explains the intricate layers of the traveler’s journey, moving beyond the conventional focus on securing bookings. It delves into each phase, deciphering key strategies OTAs can employ to increase conversions.
Six steps to optimize OTA conversions
Optimization for mobile platforms is imperative, aligning with Google’s data that 60% of destination searches stem from mobile devices.
Ensuring swift site loading is an anchor, even a 10-second delay risks a substantial 120% increase in bounce rates. Strategic SEO and PPC campaigns are equally important, which target practical keywords and have a narrative around experiential queries. This early interaction allows OTAs to gradually construct traveler personas, setting the stage for future conversions.
2.Seizing the Shopping Phase
As inspiration transforms into active exploration, travelers enter the shopping phase. Here, the speed of query responses is paramount. OTAs must hit the much talked about “search sweet spot,” using mobile-optimized APIs and intelligent caching to deliver rapid responses.
Diversity in fare options and the transparent display of traveler reviews become crucial during this stage. Trust, a vital element according to Travelport’s research, is significantly influenced by reviews on OTA sites, establishing the foundation for brand loyalty.
3.Closing the Deal with a Booking
The booking stage represents the connection between intent and action. While price remains a crucial factor, OTAs must showcase their value proposition. It includes a user-friendly booking process, a multi-device approach to align with modern traveler habits, and tools predicting price fluctuations. The goal is to secure bookings and make OTAs the preferred choice when users are ready to book.
4.Preparing for the Trip
Post-booking, the pre-trip phase offers an additional avenue for OTAs to deepen relationships. Timely reminders and pre-trip ancillary upsell, such as flight add-ons and car rentals, add value and convenience. OTAs can foster loyalty even before the trip commences by positioning themselves as trusted partners.
5.Enhancing the In-Trip Experience
As the journey starts, the focus shifts to enhancing the in-trip experience. Personalized travel tips and recommendations based on user preferences elevate the traveler’s experience. In-trip assistance through various communication channels, such as app chats or text messages, strengthens the OTA’s role as a reliable travel companion.
Most OTAs conclude their narrative with a single trip, but the transformative potential lies in post-trip engagement. Requesting feedback, understanding customer experiences, and ensuring a seamless post-trip journey contribute to customer loyalty. Convenience plays a pivotal role, with 73% of travelers acknowledging that the ability to book an entire trip in one place encourages re-booking with an OTA.
The eventual success in the online travel industry is decided by many factors that go beyond just securing bookings. Understanding and optimizing the entire traveler journey is a crucial pie of the puzzle.
From inspiring travelers with relevant content to providing smooth booking experiences and post-trip engagement, each step plays a crucial role in converting users into loyal customers. This article underlines these variables as a roadmap for OTA leaders seeking concrete ways to optimize conversations.
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