The Customer Journey – Part 3: Booking

In the third and final post looking at the customer journey from the perspective of the travel industry, we focus on the booking stage, where yet again digital technology is making its presence well known. Booking a holiday online has become the most popular option by far, with more than 60% of leisure travellers making reservations via the Internet. Just one in six travellers makes their booking over the phone or in person. And according to Google's 2014 Traveller Study, 67% of leisure travellers use smartphones at some stage during the process of booking a holiday.

The time between the end of a traveller's research phase and making a booking is relatively short. Customers tend to move quite quickly when making a reservation – and the transition often takes place the same day.

Of course, there are a number of factors that can interrupt the customer journey at this point. These can range from a difficult online experience, to non-engaging or inadequate content, to negative reviews and comments about a product or service.

With more customers making their booking via a mobile device, the mobile-friendliness of a website is a significant consideration. The main deterrent to making a booking via a mobile device is that the website is hard to see, read or navigate. Next on the list of factors that turn people away is a webpage that takes too long to load or respond. Customers also consider the level of security before making a booking via their mobile device.

However, while the number of travellers booking their getaways on mobile devices is steadily increasing each year, their mobile experiences are not always ideal. Unfortunately, 84% of travellers booking a hotel for a leisure break have experienced a poor mobile experience, according to Google's research.

Not only will these experiences persuade potential customers to make their bookings elsewhere, but 20% will do so via a competitor's site which is more mobile-friendly. In addition to this, these disgruntled users will often not keep their experiences to themselves and will share them via social media.

With 72% of travellers around the world citing the ability to book travel via mobile devices as useful, it is crucial that travel businesses make sure their site is mobile-optimised. They also need to constantly evolve their strategy as new technology emerges. This includes offering multi-channel capabilities for booking, such as apps or Facebook, and keeping the booking process as effortless as possible though effective use of calls-to-action.

Businesses also need to make sure that the content they are presenting to potential customers is relevant to their interests (this is done through analysis and integration of customer data with CRM). By tailoring packages to travellers' profiles, businesses create a far more personalised relationship with their audience at the crucial point when their journey changes from search to booking.