This post originally appeared on Forbes.com
E-commerce brands have been optimizing user experience (UX) for years, continuously making small improvements to simplify the customers' journey, increase conversion rates and improve the customer experience. The travel & hospitality industry—one of the industries we serve—would be wise to learn from e-commerce UX strategies and put them into practice, especially when nearly half of consumers in an IDology survey said they'd abandon a brand after experiencing two negative digital interactions. (Full disclosure: IDology is owned by our parent company, GBG.)
In the travel industry, we have started to see a drastic pushback from customers, with air travel complaints soaring by 270% last June. This transformation in traveler expectations over the past three years has redefined the industry's dynamics permanently moving forward. As travelers gravitate toward more frictionless journeys, online travel agencies with superior user experiences will flourish, and traditional travel and hospitality entities that don't account for UX will be more likely to experience revenue loss, data leakage and severed direct customer communications.
So, what can travel & hospitality brands learn from e-commerce companies to improve their user experiences and conversion rates? Here are some actionable improvements for enhanced UX.
A 2022 Bold Commerce study unveiled a startling 53% abandonment rate during checkout for desktop users. The worst culprits included a complicated checkout process, mandatory account creation, slow page load times and poor mobile optimization. Friction during the checkout process only leaves customers frustrated, which impacts conversion, satisfaction, retention and loyalty.
Implementing UX best practices during the booking process, such as minimizing clicks and simplifying a convoluted checkout process (making sure there are no excessive form fields and unnecessary steps), prevents cognitive overload. With many customers already juggling multiple digital engagements—jumping from project to project and tab to tab—it’s easy for the mind to lose interest when confronted with needless complexity.
Mandatory account creation, while valuable for establishing long-term relationships, can be a deterrent for spontaneous travelers seeking quick and easy bookings. It's a delicate balance between nurturing customer loyalty and facilitating frictionless one-time purchases.
Slow page load speeds, in the age of instant gratification, can feel almost as torturous as watching paint dry. Studies have consistently shown that even a minor delay can lead to user frustration and abandonment.
Finally, let’s address the importance of mobile optimization in an era where mobile devices dominate online interactions. A non-responsive interface or poorly designed mobile experience is a surefire way to send potential customers running away to online travel agencies offering an easier way to purchase the same "product."
Most travel and hospitality businesses have chosen the self-built approach for receiving payments. This has proven to be not only costly but has become a barrier to improved adaptability as customer needs change.
By decoupling payments and using plug-and-play software that specializes in improving the check-out process, you can cut costs and eliminate friction points preventing conversions.
By taking the complexities out of building payments internally and implementing dedicated software, you can improve your user experience, improve fraud reduction and save money, time and effort.
Overly complex verification procedures can lead to a poor customer experience, so verification processes need to strike a balance between user-friendly and compliant. With the modern traveler seeking quick, hassle-free interactions, too many verification steps can become a barrier, disrupting the flow of their booking journey.
Finding the delicate balance between ensuring accurate data and user-centric simplicity is where the winning combination lies. An increasingly popular solution in this realm is enlisting technology such as type-ahead global address verification—a tool that not only syncs complex address entries but also speeds up the checkout process and ensures accurate customer data. With 93% of airlines increasing spending on technology, it’s clear that digital transformation is a critical gateway to elevating the customer experience when allocated correctly.
Integrating address verification solutions into the booking process not only improves CX but helps improve data integration, data matching and data quality processes. This resolves differences in data formats and varying address data standards.
Accurate and well-structured data is the cornerstone of seamless service delivery. Processes such as billing, CRM, CDP, fraud and marketing systems only become more optimized with quality data.
Beyond keeping your systems optimized, data allows travel and hospitality companies to improve their overall customer experience. Optimizing customer profiles, crafting tailor-made marketing initiatives, facilitating personalized communications and preventing fraudulent activities are a few of the many ways to improve your customers' experience with your business.
In a world where customer expectations evolve at the speed of technology, cultivating and utilizing customer data for an improved customer experience isn't just a strategy but a mandate. E-commerce, with its emphasis on precision and personalization, has paved the way, inviting the travel and hospitality sector to harness the power of data to improve their bottom line. By embracing data's transformative power and weaving it into their operational ethos, businesses can craft a journey that resonates with modern travelers.