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The travel industry has experienced a great deal of upheaval in years characterised by swift change in customer habits and the impressive unwillingness of many companies to adapt.
To be fair, travel companies have come a long way in the past three to four years. Apps are now common place for airlines and some airports and travel websites are starting to adopt responsively designed websites.
In this post I’ll be taking a look at some recent studies into the mobile strategies of travel companies and airlines.
I’ll be pondering what the best approach is for these companies and whether in fact there’s no sense in avoiding apps or responsive websites, given their respective parts to play in the customer journey.
If you're a small to medium-size travel or experience brand, the following three strategies are sure to help you increase conversions and retention rates.
If you're a big player in the sector, take a look anyway. There might be a gap that one of these could fill or a little inspiration.
Either way, I hope you find them to be useful.
A satisfying mixture of cutting edge web design, charming images and delightful usability makes the Visit Suffolk website a joy to get lost in, as much as the county itself.
Did I sound too much like an actual tourist board there?
Possibly, but it’s genuinely difficult not to be charmed by this site. Offering an experience that is not unlike exploring any attractive UK destination. In my experience I’ve certainly not found a tourism website quite so captivating.
Come with me and let’s take a little wander around the east coast…
Ryanair was, and is, famous for many reasons; cheap flights, luggage restrictions, perceived sexism, a crazy boss, a refreshing approach to PR, and the list goes on.
All this might sound harsh, but it is thankfully all changing. Michael O'Leary has been all over Twitter recently talking about forthcoming improvements, particularly to the web, and luggage restrictions, too.
And today, via its Twitter account, Ryanair announced the first stage of its website rebuild, the homepage, is now live.
Hyatt releases its Q3 results today, so I thought I’d pre-empt the webcast and take a look at the company's digital efforts.
Is its digital marketing as good as the hotels? And how do its efforts compare to some big name competition?
It turns out Hyatt is fairly solid, online. I didn’t get mad trying to use the website, and everything was easy to find, with a good mobile presence.
To take it to the next level, Hyatt would have to redesign its website to match the modern design of RoomKey or Top10.com.
It would also be great to see more rich content on the Hyatt website, rather than simply its social channels. This would allow more of the atmosphere of the hotels and the ethos of the brand to suffuse the browsing and booking process.
Let’s have a look at the brand's paid, owned and earned digital content.
With responsive design riding a tidal wave of popularity and common sense, I can’t think of a sector better suited than air travel.
We’ve all been travelling to an airport, needing to check flight times, terminals, parking arrangements, delays etc. We know airport websites have this info, but we aren’t confident in navigating an old desktop site from our phones. Well, it seems Gatwick have smashed it out the park on this one.
This post isn’t going to go into too much detail about why the site is great. I’ll just post some annotated pictures of it, and encourage you to try it out for yourself.
Travel websites are very search-orientated, and are understandably keen to encourage visitors to key in their preferences and start their holiday search.
So, a user-friendly search interface is vital for travel sites to maximise searches and therefore bookings.
Here I look at examples from 25 popular travel websites, as well as some best practice tips for travel search.
Consumers made a total of 3.2m online searches for flights last month, and more than 17% of these were made on mobiles, which highlights the need for travel firms to optimise their sites.
According to stats from Greenlight, 'Cheap flights' was the most popular term searched for on Google UK, accounting for 17% of all flight searches, and 20% of all searches made on mobile.
So are the travel sites ranking for these terms optimising for mobile? Using the term 'cheap flights', I've been checking the top ten results...
I'm continuing my journey, exploring what digital transformation means in the real world. I’ve been speaking to David Jarvis from TUI Travel plc (the world’s largest leisure travel company).
David works for Specialist Holidays Group (SHG) within TUI and is currently VP of Customer Engagement for Marine brands Sunsail and The Moorings. His experience with online goes back to the mid-90s with a focus on user experience, and he’s now helping to drive transformation at TUI.
When I spoke to David he highlighted a few key themes he has been experiencing when driving change within his part of the business.
Are you an individual or SME facing steep charges by the banks on international payments?
MyCurrencyTransfer.com is a cheaper and more transparent option where founders do not want you to get short changed by high fees or excessive margins added to the real exchange rate.
High Street banks lookout, My Currency Transfer has a strong product offering on travel money and international payments.
We spoke with Daniel Abrahams, Co-founder of this UK, now Isreal-based startup on their success and what's next.
In this post, or seamless meld of my personal and professional lives, I will highlight a few user experience blips I found when booking a holiday to Austria.
On reflection, it occurs to me we might all be over-excited about new developments online. Wearable technology and cross-channel CRM are both all over tech and digital marketing news, but how far are we from websites working to the user's satisfaction?
As progress brings more examples of 'good', the 'bad' becomes even more annoying. The whole experience of booking my holiday left me realising that one of the main benefits of package holidays remains the same: they take the hassle out of having to interact with more than one service/company in the travel sector.
None of the company websites I used were bad at all, in fact, I was impressed by OBB (Austrian Rail) and Olotels, but the cumulative effect of small user experience hiccups meant that booking tickets and accommodation filled an evening with moderate pain.
Can a holiday ever truly be 'last minute' until travel sites are optimised further? Here are the problems I faced.......
Seeing an ad outdoors has a greater impact on us than one served to our laptop or phone. We come across it, 'discover it' if you want to be properly cheesy, we trust it more, and the creative is tied to a more unique and memorable set of circumstances.
This is of course debatable; there are lots of caveats, but I believe it to be true.
Bear with me on this post, there is going to be some pontificating on a Brian Cox-esque scale (for non UK readers, he's a TV broadcaster who gets very reflective about the universe).