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Booking Abandonment – Why People Abandon Their Booking

Booking Abandonment – Why People Abandon Their Booking


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The travel industry has experienced harsh times and a major decline in revenue and sales. This is why it’s even more important to make sure the travel booking process is optimised and to make sure you lower the booking abandonment rate. The lower the booking abandonment rate the more online sales will be made.

We’ll analyse why people abandon their booking and what travel retailers can do about it.

Download our 2022 Travel Ecommerce Stats & Trends Report for more insights.

What Is Booking Abandonment In Travel?

Booking abandonment also called ‘booking recovery’ or ‘reservation abandonment’ is when a website visitor begins the booking process but does not complete it. For example, a customer who begins to book a hotel, flight or other travel product but then leaves without purchasing. 

Why Your Visitors Aren’t Booking

Your visitors aren’t booking for a range of reasons, which we will explore below. But the reason customers abandon their bookings or digital baskets can be pinpointed when analysing your ecommerce customer journey in Google Analytics. 

For example, if you see decaying content, low converting pages or high exit percentages this can trigger a response to your marketing team to take action.

Airlines and Hotel booking forms can be optimised using a range of UX and conversion rate optimisation services, which we will explore. 

However, there can still be a suite of reasons why your website visitors abandon. When a website visitor abandons, that’s an online sale or holiday booking that has been lost. To increase the point of conversion has a direct impact on your bottom line revenue. 

The travel industry spends billions of dollars every year on their conversion rate optimisation strategy and driving traffic to their websites, yet 81% of visitors leave before completing their booking. 

Even though brands learn their customers buying patterns and understand the best days for ecommerce sales abandonments will still occur for many reasons known and unknown.

For marketers working in online travel – whether it be an airline, hotel, online traveling agent, cruise or car rental brand, a booking abandonment solution is an opportunity to recover more online sales . 

Below SaleCycle surveyed 1000 consumers about why abandonment happens.

The Results

Before you take a look at our infographic with the headline results (you already took a glance at it, haven’t you) Here are a couple of things to note about the audience surveyed:

86% of people said they typically make their travel bookings online – with the rest preferring to book in person or by telephone

Our lovely responders were in 12 countries across the globe, with the US, UK and Australia covering 64% of all responses

And here’s what they said:

Booking Abandonment Infographic

How To Reduce Booking Abandonment 

There are many campaigns and solutions to boost traffic and increase brand awareness but having a strategy to reduce the number of abandoned travel bookings can help grow ROI in your online traffic.

Here we’ll explore some of the ways to reduce booking abandonment based on SaleCycle’s experience with conversion rate optimisation and abandonment campaigns for billions of user-journeys.

  • Form Design 

Simplify the process. Keep forms short, avoid unnecessary questions, use auto-fill when possible and show how much progress users have made. Also see insights from these mobile form design examples of ways to improve your online booking forms. Ultimately you must guide the user through the process, quickly and efficiently to reduce possible abandonment. 

  • Optimise For Mobile 

There are some tricks to use to optimise for mobile such as adding shortcuts for payments or long details like mobile numbers. Booking forms must be optimised for mobile so they should be single column, larger input fields or using mobile tech like scanning features to populate information like passport data. Travel retailers should also ensure on-site conversion messaging is shown on mobile as well as desktop, in fact DFDS Cruises show how many people are viewing a particular cruise. There are many more mobile conversion techniques to use. 

  • Test The Experience 

Ensure to have multiple people test the experience. The majority of us have experience with booking holidays. It’s a cheap way to ensure your target audience believes in the website booking process. Have them fill out forms, sign up for newsletters, fill out forms and so on.

  • Cart, Form and Browse Abandonment Solutions 

It should be a major focus for the business to recover lost sales from users abandoning their purchase. Abandonment is going to happen but you can reduce it. A well-timed, multi-cycle cart abandonment email with dynamic travel content can remind users of what they have left behind. Types of dynamic content can include images but also ecommerce countdown timers

  • Social Proof (Reviews) 

The majority of customers making high ticket purchases (like holidays) generally spend longer in the research phase of the buyer journey. These types of customers also tend to have a higher abandonment rate. Research by UX accreditation company, Nielsen, found 92% of consumers are more likely to trust non-paid recommendations than any other type of advertising. A pro tip is to include destination, hotel and airline reviews at various points of the conversion funnel, this is called increasing your social proof.


The most common reason for consumers abandoning their booking was they were not ready to book or were just browsing. 

This is a similar trend for shopping cart abandonment within the retail sector too. For example, consumers will browse, or create wishlists. 

We should also mention the price or AOV (average order value) which plays a big part in buying patterns. The higher the price (such as a holiday) the higher the abandonment rate. 

This was stressed even further when asked where and what point in the journey people were likely to abandon, with over half citing the moment they are shown the total price.

A staggering 87% of consumers responded that they would search for the booking again, with 46% saying they would do so within 24 hours of abandoning the booking.

Another important conversion tactic (especially in travel) is the importance of customer service. Whether that be digital customer service or a live chat. High AOV items like holidays can sometimes require extra questions. 

Request a Demo

Find out how SaleCycle can help you to tackle booking abandonment.

Reviewed by Brad Ward
Written by Graham Charlton
— Updated on 13/01/2022


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Brad Ward

Brad Ward is the SEO & Content Manager at SaleCycle. Brad is a former magazine journalist with over 8 years experience in digital, including SEO, social media and copywriting. Brad has written thousands of articles for a range of different sectors including online gambling, travel, education, sports and ecommerce.