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How Online Travel Businesses can reduce shopping cart abandonment

Jul 25th 2015 at 12:23 AM

Studies have shown that the travel industry suffers from one of the highest shopping cart abandonment rates. According to E consultancy, around 81% of travelers abandon their bookings online, compared to 68% in online retail. This represents a huge revenue loss for online travel companies, which make significant investments into building their brands online. Yes, many of those 81% are just looking around or doing research or comparing prices across different sites. However, there are also a large number of people who abandon the cart due to a poor online experience.

Some of the issues they often face on online travel sites are:

  • Poor navigation
  • Complicated checkout
  • On-site technical issues(script errors/slow site loading speed/unresponsive design etc)
  • Lack of payment options

All the above issues are related to the UX or User Experience. Let's face it, merely having an online travel portal is not enough today. The first task is to get people on your site, through SEO and online marketing. Once you get traffic, you need to make give them a strong reason to engage with your site and ideally, make bookings. If your site is clunky and doesn't offer what people are looking for, you'll have a high bounce rate and a significant loss of bookings. The trouble is, most visitors won't tell you why they've left. They'll just do, and chances are, they will never return.

As we mentioned above, you will always get window shoppers on your site and there's not a lot you can do about that. What you can do however is try and optimize your site to convert a high percentage of visitors who are actually ready to buy. So what are some of the things you can do to with your site to reduce your cart abandonment rate and achieve higher web conversions?

Build a site with a user-friendly and mobile responsive design: Your site may be the first touch point for many of your customers, and if they struggle to use it, they will go to another site. So you need to make sure that the layout is very clear and easy to use. You also need to have a design that is mobile responsive, especially your booking engine and checkout page to be optimized for handheld devices, as a large number of people make bookings on their smartphones and tablets.

Save user shopping carts: Just because a customer doesn't book instantly doesn't mean you've lost them forever. Many users out there like to save items in their shopping cart and book them later. They don't want a system where they can't save their desired items into a cart, forcing them to search and add the same items all over again to book.

Remind them of their saved items: If you do allow users to save their carts, and they don't checkout within 24 hours, don't be afraid to remind them that their cart is idle. Send them a personalized email telling them that they're seconds away from booking that flight or hotel for their ideal trip. If the price of the item(s) in the cart has dropped, notify them. The price could be keeping them on the edge and if they find a better deal elsewhere, they're very likely to book there. Saving their cart and notifying them of a price drop can make them book with you instead of your competitor. With reminders you need to be careful that you're not too pushy though, as that's likely to put them off.

Display product availability: Displaying the number of rooms left in a hotel, or the seats left on a flight can be the difference between the booking and abandonment. Availability can be displayed both on the search results and the saved cart. If they have saved the cart and haven't completed the transaction within 24 hours, notify them of reduction in availability as people tend to respond to scarcity, I.e they are more likely to buy something urgently when they know it's scarce and could be sold out soon. Showing availability upfront also saves customers the frustration of searching for an item and then finding out that it's not available. If their desired flight or hotel is not available, you can suggest them similar options as alternatives.

Show number of bookings done and customer testimonials on the checkout page: If the consumer has reached the checkout page, but is on the fence regarding whether they should complete the transaction or not, displaying the number of bookings you've sold for the particular flight, hotel or a package that the customer has added to the cart can be just the push they need. If you have Trip advisor reviews integrated, you can also show positive reviews/testimonials for their selected item on the booking page. This will build their confidence in your service, which is particularly crucial for first time buyers.

Make the checkout process as easy as possible: As we mentioned in the beginning, one of the reasons why people abandon bookings online is an complex and time consuming check out process. A very high bounce rate on the checkout page is usually a good indication that your checkout process needs work. When asking for customer details, make only the most basic information(eg name, email, DOB, bank details etc) mandatory and leave all the other information optional. You can always ask for additional information later. Having a social sign-on feature would make the process even quicker for them as their details will automatically be pulled in from Facebook/Google Plus etc and the form filled automatically so they won't have to waste time filling it every single time. This option will also enable you to capture customer data which would help you personalize their booking experience. During checkout, you should also assure users that their information won't be shared with third-parties and will be held in the strictest confidence.

Offer multiple payment options: Each customer is different. Somebody might prefer to pay via bank transfer, another user may prefer paying by card, and somebody else might prefer to pay book online but pay in cash in person. For cards, one user may use Visa, another one may use Amex. So it's important to offer your customers as many choices as possible for you. You don't want to lose a whole lot of customers because you only give them one way to pay!

Display security logos and contact info: It's advisable to show third-party web security logos on the payment screen, such as Verdigris, as this would assure the user and build trust. Having your phone number and a customer support email address on the checkout screen will also help, as it would allow customers who are doubtful about something to contact you for more information. If possible, integrate a live chat feature so customers can get instant online support.

Don't hide any costs: One of the reasons a lot of customers abandon their carts is because the final price they are shown is different from the one they see on the search results page. All fees and charges, small or big should be shown to the customer upfront, so that they don't get disappointed when they ready to checkout. Price transparency builds trust and the lack of it kills it.

Finally - Test, test, test!: The importance of testing your site for bugs and UI/UX issues cannot be overemphasized. Testing should be a continuous process and should be done regularly, not merely before launching the site/app. Regular testing allows you to identify issues quickly enough for you to fix them before they cause too much damage. Monitoring the checkout page for errors is essential as that can result in direct loss of sales. If you're a small to mid-sized business with limited staff, it may be difficult for you to do the QA in-house. So it's advisable to outsource your portal development to an expert Travel technology provider who will look after all your IT needs, right from portal development, to hosting, to constant Quality Assurance and maintenance.

Conclusion:  While a 100% conversion is implausible for any business, online or offline, you can certainly minimize your booking abandonment rate by deploying the methods discussed above. Most of these techniques don't require a heavy investment and are quite easy to implement, but their effect on your bottomline can be huge. Customers WILL trust you and they WILL book with you, as long as you are able to win their confidence and make the booking process easy for them.

TravelCarma offers complete online booking systems, including attractive web portals with rich features like savable shopping cart, social sign-on, trip planner, multiple payment gateway support and a lot more. We've helped hundreds of clients across the world sell their travel inventory online and maximize conversions. To find out how we can help your travel business make more money, get in touch with us on or visit us on

Author Bio :- Our Travel Agency Software helps travel agencies sell flights, hotels and packages online, manage reservations, connect to multiple suppliers, manage inventory, build quotations.

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