As statistics suggest holiday bookings are set to reach pre-pandemic levels this summer, James Tyler, head of technology at next-generation website monitoring company RapidSpike, uncovers what more travel brands can do to ensure that their must-visit getaways are the ones that stand out from the crowd.
Guest Post: How to make your website perform so you reduce holidaymakers’ cart abandonment
Whether opting for short city breaks or long-haul destinations, many people will be getting their suitcases packed and ready for their first summer holiday since the pandemic hit in 2020.
For travel brands, 2022 is a welcome return to some form of ‘normality’ following a two-year period which has forced flights to remain grounded and resulted in the temporary closure of popular resorts.
Recently, Thomas Cook and Skyscanner have reported huge surges in bookings, however, there have also been many cancelled flights across the industry due to staff shortages which has greatly impacted buyer trends. So, there’s still a lot of work to be done to recover from the industry damage that Covid-19 has inflicted because, while demand is high, consumers are looking for a stress-free and trusted experience - and that doesn’t always mean they’ll be loyal to one single organisation anymore.
With an array of choice in a crowded market, factors including price and user experience can greatly impact purchasing decisions for modern-day holidaymakers. And for travel brands looking to attract customers who aren’t specifically tied to one operator, monitoring their online performance can give them true competitive advantage.
Those that prioritise their website reliability, performance and security are more likely to reduce their cart abandonment. Why? Because they’re offering a user experience that’s easy, swift and safe – all of which can enhance customer loyalty and increase conversion rate.
And yes, despite every travel website having different complexities and USPs, consumers still expect a similar level of performance and user experience compared to other industries. With the direct correlation between website speed and conversion now widely acknowledged – and conversions dropping by 7% for every 1 second delay in page loading time – even marginal gains of 0.1% could represent millions of extra revenue for the largest travel brands.
So, here are three areas travel brands must monitor to reduce customer cart abandonment this summer…
- Maintaining a reliable online presence
The cornerstone of a good website strategy, without uptime and essential website checks, consumers may not be able to access a website in the first place. In general, travel websites have good uptime scores of 99.89%, however, typically consumers' expectations are greater than this – with few expecting nothing less than 100%.
Website outages often become both news and social media-worthy posts too, therefore travel websites should take precautionary measures to mitigate downtime, especially in holiday sales periods.
Before sales, it’s important that organisations estimate traffic increases, undertake load testing or stress testing, and scale-up infrastructure to support the expected increase. A status page should also be created to avoid confusion and let customers know what is happening with the website.
- Ensuring every stage of the website is high performing
With the average travel website speed being 2.97 seconds, having a highly performing website is now considered the ‘new normal’. And so, making sure customers can complete a sale from start to finish seamlessly is essential if cart abandonment is to be avoided.
Using synthetic user journey monitoring – often referred to as being an ‘online mystery shopper’ – travel brands can find, fix and prevent issues in response to the bot’s findings. Quickly, they can understand at which point a shopper might encounter an issue with the website before it becomes a widespread problem for hundreds of their customers. Analysis of relevant metrics taken during test journeys and then be used to make changes for the better.
For example, might a visitor abandon their cart because it took too long for the ‘postcode checker’ to load? If so, the travel brand can take that piece of information and investigate further, check its third-party responsiveness, and so on.
Armed with real-time analysis of each synthetic user journey result, organisations can make sure issues don’t recur and that for every marginal gain, their websites are performing that little bit better than a competitor.
In addition, a high performing, operational website is not only good for reputation and building brand loyalty, but it can also reap significant sustainability savings. For example, if a team uploads an image that’s 1MB too big, it might not seem bad. However, downloaded one million times, that’s the equivalent of one million megabytes of server, network and user device time, plus electricity and transport time, all of which can negatively impact the planet.
- Keeping everything secure
Travel brands must be proactive and have a multi-layered security approach so that it avoids becoming a cyber-attack victim as well as the next news headline.
With Magecart continuing to be the number one security threat to websites today, many top travel brands have fallen victim to these sophisticated breaches – most notably British Airways which was fined £20 million for a 2018 hack that exposed over 400,000 customers’ credit card details.
The good news is, following the latest revision to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS v4.0), all websites that transact online must take payment page security seriously by auditing and monitoring script behaviour within these sensitive areas. Client-side data breaches are common and can be hard to detect if brands are not utilising sophisticated synthetic browser testing.
Therefore, to avoid data exposure, fines and reputational damage, it’s vital the travel industry monitors one of the biggest vulnerabilities – its third-party provision. This can be done by installing data breach detection software which places new hosts on ‘Trusted’ or ‘Untrusted’ lists to identify threats before they become major breaches. Additionally, human error can cause the majority of data breaches, so organisations should automate processes where possible to minimise risk.
When websites can hit the three criteria of providing a reliable, high-performing and secure online experience, organisations will give themselves the best possible advantage when it comes to converting more customers. By detecting issues early too, cart abandonment can be greatly reduced, and consumer loyalty strengthened during a time when every travel brand is battling to secure the next holiday booking.