The internet is now the default location for all parts of the travel purchase journey, according to a new study.
Multichannel digital marketing and e-commerce software firm EPiServer says ‘social commerce’ is an increasingly important part of driving website traffic, and growing numbers of referrals to travel retailer sites come from social media.
Online reviews, ratings and recommendations also play an increasingly important role.
Converting visitors relies on relevant interactions that should be event-driven, not just broadcast, the company says.
“Personalisation of information can give retailers a significant competitive edge by using visitor data to provide relevant information to individuals without them having to search for it. After purchase too, retailers can use the information gathered to upsell and cross-sell products and services,” the firm’s whitepaper into the sector says.
European marketing and sales vice president Maria Wasing said: “Online is now the default location for travellers looking for everything from holiday inspirations, hotel bookings, family days out, to a bargain getaway.
“However, as competition is just a click away, online travel and leisure retailers need to sell an ‘experience’ that starts from the moment a traveller logs-on to their site, and extend the experience across other channels that customers choose to engage.
“In order to drive sales and improve conversions online, a centralised platform to deliver personalised and relevant user experience is key to sustaining visitors’ interests and gaining trust every step of the way.”
There are still plenty of opportunities to engage customers during their travel, the report suggests. Apps and mobile sites should be context and location driven, providing useful information.
Retailers should encourage customers returning from holiday to think about their next trip and ask for feedback and ratings for places they stayed and visited.
This builds a profile of the customer for future tailored offerings, whilst providing testimonials to attract new customers, and also providing an opportunity to resolve any issues.
The report, ‘Personalise, Mobilise and Socialise the Travel Journey’, includes examples of best practice in case studies of Skistar and Co-operative Travel. It is available at at http://www.episerver.com/travel.