How to Make the Travel Research Process More Efficient So You Can Close the Deal
Not that long ago, a conversation about travel marketing was focused on analytics—pages per visit, time on site, content engagement, and so forth. This conversation has shifted considerably in the last few years, focusing more on the proliferation of devices and on how or when travelers are using them.
Though the dialogue has shifted, we can’t lose sight of the old-school metrics that still guide us in the new device-laden era, more specifically how those metrics might be changing. For instance, not that long ago travel sites aimed to keep guests on site as long as possible, believing the more time on site/pages per visit the better. But this isn’t necessarily a recipe for winning travelers in today’s world.
According to eMarketer, travel sites average among the highest time on site of any industry with an average of 7.70 minutes, and the travel industry average for stick rate (visiting more than one page/visit), which “is linked to likelihood to convert,” is 57%. Despite these promising statistics, a MarketingSherpa report reveals that the travel and hospitality industry has some of the lowest conversion rates of all industries (4%). MarketingSherpa acknowledges that different industries may define a conversion differently (one industry may call capturing a newsletter sign up a conversion while another industry may be defining a high-dollar sale as a conversion). Even so, it’s clear that there’s a disparity between all that engagement and actually closing the deal.
It’s really no surprise that the travel industry keeps guests engaged more than most: our whole industry is built on a daydream, complete with beautiful images and copious details about what “escaping it all” will look like. Guests are willing, wanting really, to invest the time to make the right decision. But how much time?
We can’t be so quick to think that the longer we keep a traveler on a website, the better our chances of capturing the booking, especially when the booking abandonment rate for OTAs is a whopping 89% and for hotels 68% (Tnooz). We can’t assume that all those valuable minutes are minutes spent with truly engaging content that will lead to a conversion.
Much of that time is now spent reading reviews. A 2014 TripAdvisor report said that travelers read approximately 6-12 reviews—and many of those reviews aren’t all that short (in fact, some are incredibly long). Travelers are also reviewing 6-12 websites across multiple devices. That’s a lot of toggling between screens, laying tablets or smartphones down and coming back, a lot of looking for the very best rate.
At the end of the day, the sites that make the search-shop-buy process more efficient will win in the coming years. This means making it easier for travelers to find what they’re after with recommendation engines that tailor results to the user. Some of these recommendation engines may be integrated with reviews, so that there’s qualitative data attached to the search (boutique hotel in Antigua with excellent service, for instance).
Another way to make the experience more efficient is to present reviews in an easy-to-read format. Distilling them down to the most important information, excluding extremes, and presenting just the important, high-level details. TrustYou’s Meta-ReviewsTM create a synopsis based on all verified travel reviews, presenting a completely customizable picture of a property’s highs and lows. This will mean, thankfully, no more cross-eyed review reading sessions. It may also mean less time on site, but more quality engagement and more conversions.
As an industry, we’ve figured out how to present travelers with sites that are responsive and how to encourage travelers to book on any device at any time of day. It’s time to explore in detail how to make the research process more traveler friendly. This means engaging them, but doing it more succinctly—and, in the process, increasing your chances of closing the sale.
*TrustYou’s Meta-Reviews are based solely on verified travel reviews from more than 250 sources worldwide. They do not include data from TripAdvisor.