Early last month we held the first of our sector specific roundtable sessions, bringing together a number companies in the travel industry to discuss a range of subjects, both general to cross-channel optimization and industry-specific challenges. Later in the month we attended the EyeForTravel Online Marketing and Social Media in Travel Summit in Amsterdam; it became clear throughout both events that prioritization, clear objectives and the ability to keep optimization campaigns concise, quick and simple all proved to be the key areas travel organizations felt they needed to focus on in order to create a successful strategy. In addition, clear roadmaps and ongoing consultancy rated high on the list of factors contributing to optimization success.
Our client, airberlin, has learnt that setting a clear optimization strategy and outlining priorities is the key to optimization success and discussed this at the EyeforTravel event. Another priority discussed was the importance of building a culture of testing internally to support optimization. It is vital that companies keep transparency between departments and share the optimization campaigns and outcomes with everyone. At the end of the day, you are all going to benefit from a providing a better customer experience online so why not share your ideas. But don’t forget that once you have the buy-in you must continue to keep everyone’s ideas focused, relevant and on the right path! This is where having an overall strategic roadmap of campaigns in place becomes key.
The importance of data also played a big part in the roundtable session we hosted with all contributors agreeing that the data is increasingly important when it comes to helping to decide what to test on and why. Collecting and analyzing data pre-test gives businesses insight into what the test variants should be and can be equally as important as web analytics for informing test ideas.
Collecting data becomes essential when it comes to providing a personalized online experience. This was discussed in detail during the roundtable with all attendees in agreement that personalization is something that should hold more of a focus for all travel organizations. Booking travel – whether that is a hotel or a flight – is such a considered and precise thing, with travelers going through many planning stages before booking. With this in mind it should be important for travel companies to personalize the journey for the separate consumer groups and individuals, ensuring they are provided with the best possible experience.
Conversation at the roundtable session then moved to mobile and what travel companies can do to embrace the mobile user. As travel is often an expensive and non-refundable commitment the booking rates via mobile are evidently lower. However, there is an opportunity for travel companies to enhance the experience for the business traveler or last minute bookers who do wish to book travel via mobile, or indeed offer additional services via a mobile device, such as mobile boarding passes or hotel directions.
Mobile is something that is growing in popularity and as mobile traffic to travel sites increases, travel companies need to begin to think about optimization strategies for mobile devices to ensure they are not left behind. It is apparent that online technologies have transformed the consumer travel industry, something that the roundtable participants wholly agreed with. Recent independent research shows that as many as 80% of people now book their holiday via the internet, and nine out of ten consumers will research online before traveling. In a highly competitive marketplace, the importance of having a robust, responsive and user-friendly website has never been greater and this was clear throughout both events. And in an environment where the path to purchase can often take consumers across a variety of channels, optimizing the customer’s cross channel experience has become critical.
Remember, in order to create a successful optimization strategy you must take a leap of faith, be willing to try new ideas and throw in the odd ‘wildcard’.