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Why Abandonment Rates Are Higher for Travel Sites

Why Abandonment Rates Are Higher for Travel Sites


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In this post, we’ll look more closely at the data for abandonment on travel sites, and the reasons behind booking abandonment
As we found in our Q4 2016 Remarketing Report, travel abandonment rates are higher than the overall average of 76.8%, currently standing at 81.6%.

Here’s the data, broken down by type of travel business. There’s some interesting variance between the different businesses.
For example, car rental sites have a much lower abandonment rate than the rest, perhaps due to customer behaviour (people booking when in greater need of a car) or because of a shorter purchase process.

Reasons for Abandonment on Travel Sites

We surveyed consumers on booking abandonment two years ago, asking for the most common reasons for bailing out.
Reasons around researching and price comparison were the most common. This is no surprise as, for many people, a travel purchase is a big deal which they will take some time over.
Indeed, Millward Brown stats found that the average holiday purchase takes 45 days and takes in 38 different sites. 

What can Travel Sites do to Reduce Abandonment Rates?

With a generally longer time for research, abandonment doesn’t always mean that visitors have decided against a purchase, it could be merely a pause while they make their minds up, or perhaps talk to other travellers.
Nonetheless, there is a risk that potential customers will end up buying from another site once they leave, so it’s important to do what you can to keep your site and product in the customer’s mind.

1 Provide greater clarity on pricing

Our survey found that 53% of shoppers abandoned when shown the total price. This could be due to comparison shopping, but also reflects the fact that travel sites are known for adding extras during checkout – insurance, booking fees etc.
There’s no real excuse for not being upfront on pricing. Sites just need to make sure the price shown at the beginning of checkout is the same one when asking for payment.

It means that visitors carrying out research can find the correct price, and they are more likely to respect sites which are upfront about pricing and other key information.

2 Help Visitors with the Research Process

A longer research process is a fact of life for travel sites, but sites can try to provide as much information as possible so that customers don’t necessarily have to shop around.
There are a number of ways to do this, from showing user reviews to displaying key information clearly, as Thomson does here.

Destination guides can also provide inspiration for travellers and provide the kind of local information that shoppers would normally have to head to another site for. Here’s an example from AirBNB.

3 Remind them about their holiday

While customers will abandon travel sites, this isn’t necessarily the end. 87% of customers in our survey said they would consider returning to their booking after an abandonment.
Email remarketing (cart abandonment emails), SMS remarketing and on-site messaging can help to remind customers about their potential travel purchase.

It can be very useful for customers conducting research. In this example, Thomas Cook sent me an email around an hour after abandoning my booking, with a link back to the holiday I’d selected.

4 Address Form Usability

With the need to add traveller details, children’s ages, passport numbers and more, travel booking forms will tend to be longer and more complex than online retail in general.
This partly accounts for the higher abandonment rate on travel sites, and the lower rate for car rental, which is generally less complex.

The key to reducing form abandonment is to make forms as easy to complete as possible. That sounds simple enough, but there’s a lot to it.
Forms should be tested on users to identify possible pain points, labels should indicate what information is required, input fields should be adapted according to the user’s device and type of data required (defaulting to numeric keyboard on mobile for payments for example), and feedback should be provided as users complete forms.

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Graham Charlton

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.