The holiday season is in full swing and we all can’t wait to have a bit of a break and get some sun for a change (even though we’ve just come back from one and this week’s weather is hotter than the sun!).
There’s a lot of destinations and travel companies to choose from. The overseas package holiday market was 8% up YOY in 2017, with UK travellers holidaying primarily in Europe. However, domestic tourism in the UK now accounts for 80% of the visitor economy, generating over £90bn. This is not only great for the local economy, but also encourages businesses to invest more in their local areas to create a more exciting and dynamic environment for everyone.
Many of us book travel online and perhaps even have preferred companies we tend to return to. This can be based on price, destinations or simply, customer experience. There’s nothing more annoying than trying to book a holiday through a clunky website or app. Since the demand is on the rise, holiday providers need to think about making their customer experience simple and efficient. We’ve put together 5 UX best practices that travel companies need to consider for a smoother booking process on their website and mobile app.
The user experience of your search system has to be spot on to help customers find their perfect holiday. Some begin by simply looking for different places and suitable prices, so a good filtering system is a must. Many holiday providers have the search as a key point on their homepage and make other features or services secondary, allowing customers to find their destination first. It’s useful to provide a list of destinations that people can travel to from a specific airport as many might not be aware of these options or don’t have a preference at that point.
Budgets are tight so many customers are interested in the cheaper options. Being able to see prices for the entire month is useful, as well as picking specific dates. For example, Thomas Cook and SkyScanner offer to search flights by an entire month so customers can make selections according to their budget.
Displaying results also needs to be smart and intuitive, and not distracting. You don’t want to spend hours scrolling through different holiday options, opening multiple tabs and trying to figure out what they’re like. Eventually, they all blend into one and you drop everything to have a cup of tea or a pint instead.
It’s better to offer quick views of the accommodation from the results page so users wouldn't need to click further unless they’re really interested. It saves time and makes it easier to go through the results.
For those that aren’t familiar with the area, it’s great to have an interactive map displaying where the accommodation is located and being able to click on it for more information. It helps with the decision making process and offers a good overview of the area.
The content or description of the accommodation often depends on the original party who lists it. However, we’d advise to have a certain checklist of key factors that customers look for, such as the vicinity to the beach or popular attractions, availability of WiFi or pool etc. Including as many descriptive elements and useful information for travellers will help them make the selection quicker.
Despite most holidays working out OK, we’re still cautious about being ripped off and our hotel not actually looking as on the website even from the more trusted providers. It is crucial to have the most up to date images that don’t make rooms or pools seem bigger. This is why having customer reviews helps boost your credibility or flag any issues with the accommodation. Being honest in your holiday listings will help keep your customers happy and build trust for repeat bookings. This leads us to our next point..
So you’ve picked your destination and a great hotel. You’ve selected everything you need and are now ready to book, and suddenly you see a change in price. You’re hit with additional fees that weren’t shown in the initial quote. Nothing can put a customer off more than an unexpected charge at the end of the booking. It’s important to be transparent and communicate all the included costs as early on in the process as possible, as well as providing a clear breakdown of what they are. Don’t be a Ryanair!
Your customer journey doesn’t end once the booking has been made. It continues as the user starts making plans around their holiday, looking for information about local attractions, restaurants, entertainment options and more. This is your chance to help them and provide further value.
Some companies send a list of key activities that can be booked via themselves or simple information about the destination. Offering car rentals, tours and organised trips to other locations can also help make the holiday more enjoyable. Personalising these offers and sending simple reminders about the check in shows that you care about your customer, and it will help to retain them.
For example, Jet2 follow up with the customer just before the holiday with add ons, such as in flight meals or car rentals. They also email after the holiday to check if the customer would like to book another one shortly after. Sykes Cottages have created a travel companion app that helps holidaymakers plan activities in their chosen area ahead of the trip. This puts the brand on the customers’ mind when it comes to booking holidays and if this process is simple, they are more likely to come back to it.