Ed Bussey, chief executive of primary content specialists Quill, explains how improving your online experience for customers can help drive conversions.
In today’s ultra-competitive travel landscape, the key to gaining market share for travel businesses lies in delivering a seamless customer experience – from initial research through to booking.
Considering that 80% of travellers agree that informative content from travel brands influences their decision-making, it’s clear that content plays a vital role in facilitating and enhancing the customer journey, ultimately driving conversions.
Most holidaymakers have a broad idea of the type of break they want – whether that’s beach relaxation or high adventure – but they may not necessarily have a specific destination in mind.
According to Google, 51% of consumers start their booking journey with a top-level search for a destination-related topic – “best places to go in Scandinavia” or “city breaks in Portugal”, for example.
So online destination and neighbourhood guides should be an essential pillar of SEO and content strategies for online travel businesses – both in terms of capturing organic traffic from high-volume searches relating to destination topics and from a user journey standpoint, in order to provide inspiration and help customers with the decision-making process.
The road to success
After choosing a holiday destination, the next step for most consumers is to research the logistics of their trip, including flights and accommodation – often starting with targeted searches for specific destination related terms, such as “top hotels in Sicily” or “cheap flights from London to Paris”.
To ensure a strong ranking position in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) for these lucrative terms, online travel businesses need to invest in a category and landing-page optimisation – furnishing these key pages with insightful, high-quality category description and guide content that demonstrates authority to Google while adding value for users.
These pages can also act as an effective gateway for directing the consumer towards the next logical step in their research journey – for example, by promoting internal links to hotel or excursion pages.
This extends the customer’s session duration on your site, prevents them from needing to seek information elsewhere and nudges them closer to conversion.
At the latter stages of the purchase journey, accommodation descriptions – whether for hotels, villas or resorts – are crucial for securing conversions.
Accommodation descriptions must be detailed, accurate and up to date, anticipating and answering the most common traveller queries and covering aspects such as style and atmosphere; dimensions and features of rooms; local amenities and transport links; check-in times; and inclusive perks such as free Wi-Fi or kids’ clubs.
By ensuring information is clear, current and accurate, travel companies can avoid potentially damaging scenarios in which customers are “mis-sold” to when booking accommodation – minimising post-purchase complaints and increasing customer satisfaction.
For optimal performance, online travel businesses should ensure that accommodation pages are enhanced with a range of imagery (or video) to capture the user’s imagination.
It’s also important from an SEO perspective to avoid the trap of simply recycling boilerplate copy supplied by hotels, as this is likely to be duplicated on a multitude of pages around the web, negating its visibility potential in organic search results and potentially penalising your domain.
A journey to remember
When it comes to booking holidays, consumers are not particularly brand-loyal, with 88% of respondents in a 2016 Think with Google survey stating that they would switch to a competitor’s website or app if the digital experience on a brand website didn’t meet their needs.
Given the vast number of online travel agents, tour operators, airlines, aggregators and disrupters in this intensely cluttered sector, the importance of creating cut-through is all the more pronounced.
The travel businesses that can provide the simplest path to purchase, a low-friction online journey, excellent customer service and helpful, high-quality content will be the ones that gain and retain market share, safeguarding their long-term survival.