Travel and leisure websites are missing valuable trade due to abandoned bookings. A study by specialist firm Optilead has shown that many of these companies have experienced a staggering 90% drop-out rate - a much higher figure than other industries.
For its research the firm tested top travel and leisure websites, leaving the purchase incomplete three times on each site in order to find out how the website responded.
Out of the 100 websites tested, just 16 of the companies attempted to re-engage with the customers who had abandoned their deals - which were worth, on average, over £2,153. And 14 of these responses were automated emails that were not followed up.
More worrying, one site failed to follow up for a booking totalling more than £12,500, despite having access to the customer's details.
Where companies do attempt to reconnect with customers who have abandoned their booking, a delay in the follow-up can mean the difference between winning back that customer and losing them to a competitor. The average response time recorded across all channels was 11 hours and 35 minutes after the booking was abandoned - yet according to a Lead Response Management study, remarketing efforts must be made within an hour of the customer leaving a website if they are to be successful. In the Optilead study just one company sent an email within that time, delivering it 20 minutes after abandonment.
What's more, despite the fact that a simple telephone call is almost ten times more likely to convert than any other method (because it allows sales teams to resolve any issues the customer may have had online), just five companies took that approach.
In terms of accessibility, most of the websites were found to be lacking. Although a click-to-call button can be a great source of leads, an eye-opening 97% of companies do not provide one. This option can encourage customers to make an enquiry, whereas websites without the feature may lose the customer through fears about the price of a phone call.
The websites that did offer the service failed to use it effectively: one company took more than five hours to reply, another took over 19 hours and the last directed through to an automated voice operator. The websites that were most deficient in this area were the larger companies. Only one of the top five websites for monthly visits launched a response, while the best performing sites were the ones with fewer than 500,000 monthly visits.
Additionally, travel companies are not employing the multi-channel approach for their remarketing efforts - sending an email, followed by a call, followed by a secondary email - and thus have less chance of contacting the customer and winning back their purchase. Just one website used this approach.
Steve Lawton, international director at Optilead, commented: "Huge numbers of customers are currently looking for their dream holiday online, but they are not getting the help they need."
He added: "As sellers, what we should be looking at is what we can do to take this opportunity and help customers complete bookings when they show an interest."