More than 81% of online travel bookings are abandoned before completion, but not necessarily lost forever. Here’s what we recommend you do next…
Customers abandon bookings for various reasons, and those that are researching, carrying out some price comparison, or checking with other travellers can be tempted back to their bookings.
It can just require the right prompt, such as an email reminding customers about their booking. Indeed, 87% of the consumers we surveyed said they would consider returning to an abandoned travel booking.
But what makes an effective booking abandonment email? Here are ten ideas…
1 Keep it Personal
Whether we’re checking in at an airport or ferry terminal, arriving at a hotel, or rocking up to a car rental desk, nothing gets the experience off to a better start than a warm, personal greeting.
The same goes for re-engaging with customers who have abandoned a booking on a website. We expect to be treated like royalty when we’re on our holidays.
I doubt whether anyone has ever greeted The Queen by saying “Hello Valued Customer!
2 Include Booking Details
As consumers, we all put a lot of time and effort into planning our trips and holidays; spending plenty of time weighing up different options that are available to us on the across the websites we visit.
Indeed, according to a report from Tripadvisor, 80% of travel research takes longer than four weeks, so it’s fair to expect these sites to remember our plans when they contact us to remind us about the booking that we nearly made.
Even the most organised of us may struggle to remember which deal or holiday we saw on which site 24 hours later. So receiving a generic email that does not mention the dates/details/price of your booking, is as much use as a lithium-ion battery on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
In fact, data has shown that a remarketing email which includes the full details of the abandoned basket or booking, can produce 5x more click-through’s and 5x more revenue than a generic, reminder email.
3 Use Relevant Imagery
Travel is an exceptionally visual industry, where a picture can be worth a thousand words. The travel experience begins with the browsing of images of relaxing sandy beaches or the roaring fire in a traditional alpine lodge, and this is when consumers start to imagine themselves in these settings.
By including an image of where the consumer was picture you are able to connect with them on an emotional level, which is far more likely to convert browsers into buyers.
When talking about travel products, we are looking at purchases in the hundreds, if not thousands of pounds. Customers may need more than a gentle reminder to encourage them to part with these sorts of figures.
Virgin Atlantic uses an image of the Brooklyn Bridge to tempt me back to complete my booking.
4 Maintain Brand Identity
Ensure that the email you send is visually pleasing and is a true reflection of the quality of your website and your business.
You’ve spent a lot of time, money and effort designing a quality website that is user friendly and pleasing-on-the-eye, and the abandonment emails that you send to customers that abandon bookings on your site should keep up that image.
It can be difficult to achieve the dynamic insertion of all the content required to produce a high-quality, effective email, while keeping the creative looking clean and well put together.
The last thing you want is a remarketing email that looks like it was cobbled together, and resembles some email version of Frankenstein’s monster.
5 Segment your Data
Your website visitors provide you with an abundance of data which you can use to make the emails you’re sending more relevant to them.
Use the selections they make when creating their booking to give you insight into what makes them tick… segment on destination and respond with an email that, not only markets your brand, and references the holiday that they selected
Provide tips on things to do and places to go in their chosen destination; segment on price and send visitors who abandon higher value bookings a more “premium-tone” email; segment on trip type and send an email that is more relevant to a mini-cruise, city-break, beach holiday…
6 Don’t Stop at One Email
The best practice recommendation is that, even in the travel sector you must respond in a timely fashion to achieve the strongest results (within 60 minutes being the sweet spot), but some consumers will need a little more time.
For this reason, we recommned a multi-cycle remarketing campaign, where a second and, if desired, third email (each different from the previously sent one in terms of its creative, message and tone) is sent (likely at some point 24-48 hours post-abandonment), if the first one hasn’t had the desired effect.
We see that multi-touch campaigns typically increase a single-email campaign’s performance by between 25-30%.
7 Emails Must be Mobile-Friendly
According to our own data, mobile now accounts for more than 41% of all traffic to travel sites, and just over 18% of bookings.
Designing with a ‘Mobile First’ mindset is a recommended approach. This means designing with mobile as the primary focus before adapting it for desktop, rather than the more common opposite approach.
8 Keep your Creative Fresh
Regularly update the creative to ensure your re-marketing campaign is in sync with the season and your on-site offers and promotions.
9 Customers Are Your Best Salespeople
I’m sure I’m not alone in my desire to see what other people have said about a hotel’s food or an airline’s in-flight entertainment before I make my booking, and I put great stock in what my fellow traveler says.
If you use a review site (TripAdvisor, Reevoo, etc), then why not dynamically insert the average guest review score, or traveler rating into the remarketing email, and give your abandoners a short-cut to the good news?
And 10 – Don’t Be Shy… Talk to Everyone
85% of booking abandoners remain anonymous (as they abandon before entering an email address), and elongated checkouts or booking forms which are common within the travel sector, mean that much fewer customers identify themselves on a travel site than on a typical retail ecommerce site.
On-site messaging enables you to display a light-box overlay containing an engaging message to reinforce your brand or product to every abandoner, right at the moment that they are about to leave the booking process of your website.
This can help to keep them on the site, but can be used to prompt visitors to enter an email address so you can send them a reminder of their booking details.
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Graham Charlton is Editor in Chief at SaleCycle. He's been covering ecommerce and digital marketing for more than a decade, having previously written reports and articles for Econsultancy. ClickZ, Search Engine Watch and more.