For 71% of U.S. travelers, the experience of travel begins long before the luggage has been checked and the sunscreen lathered on. An ever increasing number of travelers begin their trip with online research.
Beyond acting as an outward facing representation of a business, websites and apps are the travel industry’s bread and butter. In 2018, 83% of U.S. travelers booked tickets and/or accommodations via digital platforms. But simply having an online booking platform is not enough: more than half of consumers admit that the visual content and imagery of the travel sites they visit can influence the decisions they make regarding their travel plans.
Creating a website that is at once informative, attractive, and user-friendly is imperative to success in the travel space. The experience your site creates for online visitors is a direct reflection of the travel experience that customers can expect should they decide to book with you.
And this isn’t a decision that travelers take lightly.
In 2017, users spent on average just short of a half hour browsing a hotel’s website before deciding whether or not to purchase. This is an astounding amount of time considering that a typical user spends just 2 minutes and 17 seconds on any site regardless of industry. That online travel shoppers are willing to devote 13 times more attention to vacation-related surfing suggests that they are looking to make informed decisions. To this end, basic information and a few pictures simply won’t cut it.
In an industry that quite literally promises its customers the world, travelers are confronted with hundreds of microdecisions before they can pull the trigger. There is so much to consider: Which destination? Which time of year? Which neighborhood? How long should we stay? Rental car or public transportation? Is this the best deal? Can I trust this company with my precious vacation?
The role of a well-designed travel website is to intuit these questions and to communicate an encouraging answer at every turn.
Every potential guest arrives at a travel website at a different point in their booking journey, bringing a different set of questions, concerns, and personal tastes with them. Excellent travel websites accommodate for this fact with diverse content that is attractive and informative for visitors at every stage of the travel planning and booking process, from inspirational browsing to just-about-to-book behaviors.
Afterall, your travel website should have something to offer visitors who haven’t yet decided what hemisphere they want to vacation in as well as those who are wondering if they’ll need to pay extra for parking.
But detailed content on its own can’t ensure that potential customers have a memorable first experience with your travel business. One study found that 77% of online travel shoppers felt that their booking decisions were impacted by site functionality and navigability. Among millennials, this number was even higher. 87% of the United States’ most-travel hungry generation admitted that site design influenced their decision to purchase.
Creating a visually cohesive, functional, and informative travel website that reflects the experience you are offering is not without its challenges. The following infographic from Reservations.com, a hotel and rental car booking service, showcases eight trends that design-savvy websites are using to create memorable travel experiences that start with the first click: