5 Booking Form Ideas to Consider for Your Travel Website or App
Jack Maden | February 4, 2020
Jack Maden | February 4, 2020
The travel and hospitality businesses best able to provide their customers with smooth, seamless, and even enjoyable online booking experiences stand to win that rare thing in today’s competitive industry landscape: loyalty.
As an ever-growing percentage of transportation, lodging, and entertainment bookings are completed online, more and more travelers depend on online booking forms to transform their hopes and dreams into concrete travel plans.
As recently as 2016, more than half of all travel bookings still took place by phone or via retail travel agents. But by late 2018, 82% of travel reservations were being made on a website or mobile app without any human interaction. With digital hospitality and tourism sales poised to exceed $700 billion worldwide in 2020, online booking forms have become increasingly critical gateways to travel experiences.
When online booking forms work well, their role – converting researchers and casual site visitors into paying customers – is essential for generating revenue. When they don’t, customers will turn away in droves. More than 81% of travel industry bookings are abandoned midway through the process, which means that even a small improvement in booking form usability can give a significant boost to sales.
In fact, after one major airline turned to Decibel’s platform to guide their team in making subtle changes to their global navigation menu and booking form – they saw a 13% increase in bookings – translating into an increase of several million dollars in annual revenue.
How can your team make similar improvements? Here are five key ideas to incorporate into your online booking form’s design.
1. Expedite form completion via drop-down autofill options that make it easier to fill in text boxes
The more quickly and easily potential travelers can input their data into the forms on your site, the less likely they are to abandon the transaction. By adding drop-down menus that offer to automatically complete the typing of standardized or commonly-used terms (such as airport location codes), you’ll save customers’ time and reduce error rates.
Megasearch engines and online travel aggregators like Expedia.com have set a high bar for travelers’ expectations, and most now prefer the convenience and ease of use that in-form autofill options provide.
2. Personalize your prospective travelers’ online booking form experiences
Increasingly, today’s travelers use their mobile devices to make last-minute bookings for entertainment and excursions after they arrive at their destinations. Not only does offering pricing in the local currency and scheduling in the local time zone reduce their need to do mental math, but it allows you to build attractive special offers that capitalize on their desire to experience their destinations’ local culture to the fullest.
UK-based rail and coach ticket aggregator Trainline not only offers initial prices in the site visitor’s home currency, but also presents travelers from outside the UK with an offer for special pricing contingent upon advance booking.
3. Beat the aggregators at their own game by making it a cinch to compare pricing
Online travel agencies (OTAs) have been capturing a gradually increasing percentage of the digital booking market since their advent over 25 years ago. They are particularly popular with millennials and younger travelers, who often perceive them to offer lowest-available rates and easy access to other customers’ reviews of travel offerings.
By optimizing your booking forms to make price comparison effortless with an attractive and scannable visual display of search results, you can help users save money – as well as the time they might otherwise spend on multiple aggregators’ sites.
Low-cost airline EasyJet does this well, with a simple calendar-style fare display that allows travelers to choose the cheapest travel date from among several options.
4. Offer a dedicated mobile app to increase customer loyalty
Dedicated mobile apps are often easier to use than even the best-designed responsive websites, and they allow travel brands to integrate additional functionalities that can further improve customer’s experiences on the road.
Leading hotel brand Marriott, for example, offers the Marriott Bonvoy app, which includes maps of the neighborhoods surrounding its properties, as well as in-app check-in (the application seamlessly integrates with the chain’s new smart door locks to allow guests to use their mobile device to unlock their hotel room doors upon arrival) and booking capabilities.
The app also features automatic post code lookup and numeric keypad inputs to make it easier for travelers to complete forms on the small screens of their mobile devices.
5. Remember your loyal customers if you want to be memorable
Automatically populate booking forms with returning visitors’ identifying information and preferences to save them time and make them feel welcome.
Flight search engine site Skyscanner remembers recent customer searches so that it can offer would-be travelers alerts when fares to their desired destinations drop.
Taking your travel website or app to the next level: 17 ideas to boost conversions and loyalty
When a potential traveler encounters an online booking form, it’s a decisive moment in their customer journey. Even small improvements in this pivotal experience can boost sales, drive revenue, and improve your brand’s reputation.
But there are many other things digital teams need to focus on to ensure online success. Our new e-guide, 17 Ideas to Boost Conversions and Loyalty on Your Travel Website or App, contains a whole host of hints, tips, and methodologies for you and your team to learn from. Get your copy today by hitting the banner below.