3 Tips To Offer Great Online Booking Experience
These days it is hard to imagine a time when the Internet did not play a pivotal role in the way in which people research and book their travel / holidays. As the online travel market grows in size, so to do the sheer number of choices available to the consumer when booking online. While this level of consumer choice is a good thing, it can leave the customer overwhelmed. Therefore, Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) have to find their way to “stand out from the crowd” – and that can be done only by creating a positive booking experience. Here are three tips that I believe will certainly enhance the capability and the success of any OTA.
1) Make the search easier, simpler and faster
Uncomplicated search options provide the best user experiences – a customer wants to be able to obtain results quickly and easily. Yet all too often the customer is faced with having to decipher complex online travel search dialogues.
In research that we have carried out among user groups, the traditional “search box” function has been seen to frustrate consumers – mostly they complain of the poor handling of the information that they type into the box itself, or being consigned to ticking reams of boxes that generates vaguely relevant results.
Natural Language Processing (NLP) based search technology is definitely a solution to that problem. According to our study thorough rigorous consumer testing, a semantic search option can considerably shorten the search process by up to 66%. Semantic search allows people to search in their own words – which is much quicker and more preferable to ticking endless boxes and entering data in multiple fields. A selection of boxes will not allow a customer to search specifically for ‘cheap winter sun holiday with family friendly pool’ – but this is possible in semantic search that allows a bespoke search description, and will generate relevant results.
2) Make the results personalized and relevant
Visitors to your website should be able to enter their travel wishes / queries comfortably – no matter if it is “I want to take my dog with” or “children friendly hotel with sauna”. In each case customer should see relevant results. The same applies when customers have only a vague idea of how their holidays should look like, e.g. “September on the beach with my bf, cheap”. Even with this imprecise phraseology, OTAs should be still able to offer inspiration and suggestions – mirroring the classic form of information given at a travel agent’s office.
3) Make the user feel comfortable
Customers will not book a holiday based on the first search they carry out in 99.99% of situations, and will almost always want to revisit search information, compare deals and products. This is where an intelligent “after search” navigation becomes crucial for OTAs. “After Search” navigation allows customers to change their preferences quickly and easily and not have to go back and retype everything from the beginning. Being able to research destinations / trip without fear of forgetting information obtained in previous searches leads to a more comfortable and less stressful ‘look-to-book’ experience.
At the end of the day, successful booking is dependent on a satisfactory search process. Users crave for a simple, stress free journey right from entering an initial search to completing the booking. OTAs should not be afraid to be innovative and they should think of new technologies, like e.g. semantic search technology, which makes search easier, faster and always bring relevant results.
Note: This is a guest article by Anja Maisch, Head of FACT-Finder Travel.
Image credit: 4060men.com
Author: Karthick Prabu