Booking a vacation can call for a substantial amount of advance planning and budgeting for travelers — but today, it doesn’t have to. The questions around what drives travelers to book last-minute trips, and why they make the last-minute travel purchases they do, are changing in many ways. Travel professionals understand these industry-wide changes are underway. What’s harder to understand is why some travelers wait until the 11th hour to book, and how to convince them to convert when they’re finally ready.
It’s obvious that user-friendly technology is a huge driver in facilitating last-minute travel. Online DIY travel aggregators allow for instantaneous price comparisons, eliminating some of the financial risk of last-minute bookings. Mobile usage makes it easier to book on the go, and travel bookings made on mobile have been exploding during the winter off-peak season. And studies show that when travelers are looking to book last-minute trips, they are also looking for bargain rates and discounts. These travelers aren’t spending weeks double- and triple-checking available deals. They want to take off right away. So the question is: How do you convince these travelers to convert immediately?
Last-minute travelers today research and execute their own bookings, and they do so online. Any travel business needs to prepare its web properties for these travelers, to allow them to make informed decisions quickly. Here are five ideas for how to optimize a travel website to bring these last-minute travelers to convert.
1. Display “Lowest Price Guarantee” badge: When would-be travelers abandon their online travel purchases, 37% do so because they thought the price was high and they wanted to compare prices elsewhere. Whenever a travel company can guarantee the lowest price, its website should display a badge or icon highlighting this. A low-price guarantee can increase a consumer’s confidence and keep them on the company’s page, rather than navigating off to double-check competitors’ prices.
2. Offer a price comparison tool: Displaying competitors’ prices alongside those of the company making the offer also increases the consumer’s confidence in making a decision. Online price comparisons work for a variety of ecommerce companies, and not just the travel industry. Not only do they reduce the consumer’s impulse to navigate away from the purchase page and check competitors’ prices, they can correct the consumer’s assumptions about which companies are in a position to undercut the competitors. In the case of the ecommerce office supply company Paperstone, after highlighting the price comparison tool, along with competitors’ prices, in a prominent place on the page, the company saw a 10.67% increase in online conversions.
3. Introduce a new tab on the homepage for “Last-Minute Travelers:” If you know a particular audience is out on the web looking for your offerings, make it easy for them to find your deals. An “Express Booking” button, prominently displayed on the homepage, speaks directly to last-minute travelers and walks them through the process of conversion.
4. Simplify the checkout: Last-minute travelers want as few complications or extraneous steps as possible, and 13% of travelers who abandoned a purchase did so because they felt the booking process was too long or the checkout too complicated. When visiting multiple sites to research deals, travelers often have to fill out the same information each time. To facilitate the checkout process, travel websites should allow visitors to automatically fill in information from forms they’ve already completed. Forms on different travel sites often call for the same details from the consumer. Allowing the option to copy form details can keep those consumers on your site, where they might find better deals, rather than introducing frustration that sends them back to the page of other companies they’ve already researched.
5. Make sharing of information easier: Not all last-minute travelers are loners. In fact, 21% of travelers who abandon an online purchase do so because they need to communicate with their fellow travelers before making a booking. Travel websites should facilitate sharing deal information to aid that communication. One way to do this would be to add a call to action button saying something like “Share these options.” Clicking the button could open a tab to email the details of the deal to a select group of people, or could open a chat box that fellow travelers could join to discuss the options of their bookings and itinerary.
Regardless of what drives travelers to book last-minute trips, it’s essential for travel companies to accommodate their needs and make the booking process quicker and more informed. Meeting those travelers on their own terms can help reduce purchase abandonment and increase conversions. The process begins with presenting travelers with the information they need in the places on the web — and on the webpage — where they’re looking for it.