Online holiday bookings at a record high. According to the latest ITB World Travel Trends Report, 65% of all holidays are now booked online, compared to just 24% that are booked via travel agencies.

Mobile travel bookings are also on the rise, with one in five UK holiday-makers now booking holidays using a mobile device, according to a recent survey by Tradedoubler Insight Unit.

As competition moves from the high street to digital channels, it’s now more important than ever for online travel operators to ensure customers have the best possible experience across all channels.

Broken links, payment problems, poor navigation and a lack of information can force customers to competitors’ sites, ultimately losing business. To avoid this, online travel operators need to take action fast.

Knowing your customers

The smallest technical glitch or poor process design could adversely affect the online experience for customers, resulting in site abandonment, impeded bookings, and damage to the company’s brand.

As a result, travel operators must consider implementing customer experience management software to help them better manage the digital customer experience.

This can enable them to collect and analyse information on a number of different variables such as how customers came across their website, why they have abandoned a transaction, what types of content make customers buy or convert, and how visitors behave on different devices amongst other things.

By analysing this data, travel operators can begin to understand customer behaviour and take the necessary steps to improve the quality of customer experience and maximise sales.

This type of technology can also help travel companies record each customer session at the browser level and view problems at the source.

This means they can identify complex issues that customers have a tough time describing, apply the necessary precision in investigations and eliminate educated guesses to ultimately reduce customer struggle.

Connecting the dots

However, in addition to ensuring websites are in running order to ensure customers have a first-class experience when booking holidays, travel agents must make sure they can seamlessly switch between channels.

Services like click-to-call, in-store wi-fi, mobile-optimised websites and reserve and collect are easy to implement and enable the company to connect all the channels to provide a single, overarching, top-quality customer experience.

If a customer chooses to begin their transaction online and complete it in-store, the travel operator must have access to the online booking and be able to pick up where the customer left off

Seamlessness across channels is equally beneficial to the travel operators themselves. Travel agents have access to a wealth of data, and they can use this to learn exactly what customers want and when.

For example, a travel agency might find that Google searches for ‘cheap Greece getaways’ are popular in the months of July and August, while ‘cheap city breaks to Brussels’ are popular in November and December.

Using this information, they can better align their in-store and online promotions to reflect what customers are looking for, making the overall shopping experience more seamless than ever before.

Customer satisfaction is the lifeblood of businesses. As digital channels become more widely used in the world of commerce, customers expect to be able to switch seamlessly between them, so investing in the digital experience has never been more important for travel agents.

As a result, travel companies need to begin understanding how customers operate across every channel and take steps to ensure they provide a seamless and flawless customer experience.

It’s this kind of thinking that will ensure travel agents not only survive, but also thrive in an increasingly competitive digital world.

See the ITB World Travel Trends Report here.