Thinking about booking a holiday for next year already? According to Google Trends, January stands as one of the main peak periods for organic search when it comes to all things travel. From initial research into holiday ideas, places and trip types to actually booking flights and accommodation, winter is prime time for users wanting to get away and jet off to their dream destinations for the coming year, so getting the travel booking experience right is key.
This of course means that travel and tourism websites have to keep up with demand to snag users early; after all, what’s better for business than users clicking away to book a coveted beach trip or city break before prices sky rocket?Yet it’s not just about offering the cheapest deal at the right time to get your users converting. It’s all about the full travel booking experience.
You may remember a while ago we created an insight guide on The Useful Travel Content Journey. Our conclusion was that by tailoring your own on-site experience, you can give users exactly what they need from start to finish so that whatever they happen to be searching can be found through your site with ease.
This is a lot easier said than done but at AGY47 we work with a number of fantastic clients in the travel industry however, we’re always keeping an eye on what other brands are doing to keep things competitive and interesting when it comes to attracting the eagle eyes of holiday makers.
Here’s a few brands who have us packing our bags with excitement!
Best for inspirational content: Visit Norway
With so many places, deals and trip types to choose from, it’s difficult to know where to start which why is why many users turn to search, initially, for some much needed travel inspiration.
Visit Norway have long been on our radar for their fantastic inspirational content which presents Norway as one of Europe’s most magical and picturesque locations to visit. With a rise in popularity for adventure holidays and trips to colder climes; especially those that are on the UK’s doorstep, Visit Norway has become the perfect online travel brochure for users seeking something a little different.
An easy to use website with plenty of descriptive content and stunning images of the Fjords, Visit Norway certainly know how to capture the attention of users through smart navigation, interactive content and useful info.
By featuring seasonal products and posts on the homepage, users who are unsure of settling on Norway as their destination have plenty of choice at their fingertips to convince them of things to see and do, places to visit and actually planning their trip.
Multi-media content is definitely a brilliant way to engage different types of users so there’s also illustrative video content to tell the story of each location so that users don’t even have to read the textual content if they don’t have the time or are viewing via mobile.
Having worked with clients such as VisitEngland it is also apparent that most user search for travel revolves around ‘things to do in x’ and ‘places to visit in y’ which is why categorising product pages is vital to helping users find what they need, quickly without having to scroll through pages of content that they won’t be interested in.
With this in mind, Visit Norway’s interactive map is one of the sites’ best features, allowing users to explore Norway by city or region. Not only is it much more fun to use, it’s extremely effective in meeting those important ‘things to do in Norway’ type searches.
Whilst users cannot book directly through the site, those who are in the stages or making a final decision or have already booked are lucky to find tourist information quickly and easily within the ‘Plan Your Trip’ section where you can discover a full A to Z on things to consider before travelling.
Ever wondered how to ask for directions to the airport in Norwegian? Visit Norway’s guide on helpful words and phrases means that you can even look up to make your trip easier and worry free as well as information on climate, currency, costs and getting around once there.
Best for user experience: KLM
You’ve chosen a location, you’ve picked your dates, and you’ve checked that your passport is still valid (phew… It is!), so next on any user’s travel checklist is the experience of booking a flight.
Dutch airline KLM are one of our favourite sites when it comes to user booking experiences because it’s simple, straightforward functionality allows you to not only book from the homepage but find out everything in between with just a few clicks.
Cost is a huge factor for a lot of users and it’s a given that the prices of flights fluctuate and increase week on week.
useful-booking-experience-2Perhaps one of the most useful and yet simple tools on the site homepage is the booking function which shows the average price month on month so you can see when you might be able to get the cheapest flight.
It will also tell you how many flights will leave from your chosen airport each day and once you’ve booked, you can login to choose your seat, order an a ’la carte meal, add more baggage or arrange other services such as taxi pick-ups all in one place.
If that weren’t helpful enough you can also check in online prior to your flight or view the full schedule of KLM flights that day alongside your own flight status and any potential disruptions that may affect your trip. They even have a tailor-made FAQ section and the option to contact KLM via Facebook or Twitter 24/7.
This tailored approach is something that a lot of booking sites are using to ensure that the needs of all types are users are met. Explore’s search function for example allows you to choose a tour by pace, price and style as well as by location or activity, giving its users a more personalised trips to choose from when deciding on the adventure holiday of a lifetime
Best for planning your trip: Spotted by Locals
Once your booking is complete and you feel safe in the notion is that all you have to do is turn up with your luggage, you might be thinking about what you’re going to get up to whilst you’re on holiday.
The type of queries that pop up in organic search at this post-purchase stage in the user journey are almost always ‘places to eat in x’ ‘places to visit in y’, ‘things to do in z’ which indicates that all users want is reliable information that can maximise the enjoyment of their visit.
If you’ve never been to London and are only there for a short stay, you may be more inclined to plan out your trip before you arrive so that you can hit all the must-see sights and grab a bite nearby.
For this reason alone, it would be super helpful to have a friend give a trusted recommendation the kinds of places you might like or enjoy to save time looking online.
Our client NewcastleGateshead Initiative Food and Drink section ranks highly as a trusted source on ‘places to eat in Newcastle’ because they have dedicated pages for restaurants in the region that address the user intent and of course, this incredibly useful to people visiting the area.
Spotted By Locals is one such similar site that gives you instant insight into the best places to visit across the globe when it comes to eating, drinking and hanging out. As the name suggests places are recommended by people who live within the local area that you’re visiting. Spotted by Locals is a helpful alternative to finding a dedicated site for each individual location or just scrolling through reviews on TripAdvisor, it even highlights hidden gems and popular hotspots that may not have made it on to TripAdvisor’s commercial list but provides an authentic way to enjoy your city of choice.
Complete with directions, opening times, useful links and even prices, you can download the page to view an offline version whilst you’re away so that your precious data, and roaming charges aren’t maxed out when you’re deciding whether to grab lunch in Lisbon or an art show in Amsterdam.
How you can enhance your user experience for customers
The bottom line is that when it comes to travel websites, there are plenty out there but few who provide a memorable and easy-to-use experience. The key is to think about what your users want to find and how you can provide that information in the most helpful way possible at the right time.
Users early on in their customer journey will be searching for ideas on where they can go and will be more likely influenced by video, images and editorial content whilst those who have already made a decision want easy functionality, straight-forward information and clear direction on how to get the best deal.
This might mean enhancing your content by re-categorising or optimising pieces to ensure that they link to all the right pages that will send your user on an inspirational journey into actually booking their trip.
It may even require development work to ensure that your sites’ booking forms provide a few extra options to make your customers life easier. A bit of personalisation goes a long way! Why not look into including a breakdown of the cost, quicker and slicker mobile functionality or a price comparison tool; they could be the key to more conversions.
Lastly, you want to make sure that your users’ journey doesn’t just end with the start of their trip.
Even after purchase, they will still be planning, gathering information and making sure they have everything to hand to make their trip successful. If your site managed to go the extra mile to provide helpful information they can use ahead or during their trip, or even just the opportunity to give feedback, you’re already making the user experience a positive one.