People’s travel tastes have changed in recent years. More people are open to new experiences. The number of people opting for solo travel has dramatically increased compared to our parents’ generation. People are also willing to spend more money if the experience is worth it, which is good news for travel websites. If you can give travelers the right information at the right time, you are more likely to make a sale.
Everything that you include in your travel website’s UX and UI should be geared toward that goal: the right information at the right time. While there is no fixed formula for accomplishing that, there are some general best practices that you should follow.
1. Clean, Intuitive Search Forms
Search lies at the heart of travel websites. If you boil it down to the basics, your search form should answer the “where” and “when.” However, it’s also important that you keep your target audience in mind to decide what kind of fields to include in the search form.
For instance, if you’re catering to offbeat travelers, it might be a good idea to include a “type of vacation” field in the form that allows them to search for destinations that are best for solo trips, cruises, hiking, etc. Some advisable practices when designing a search form include:
- Geolocation: Automatically identify the departing point and local currency for faster user experience.
- Advanced Search: Instead of cramming all possible fields into a single form, break it down into simpler pieces. The basic form could have vital information such as “travel dates” and “destination.” An advanced search could allow users to filter results according to different criteria, such as “type of flight” and “type of accommodation.”
2. Comprehensive Yet Uncluttered Search Results
Bad search results can adversely affect user experience. Your search results should provide enough information for users to make quick comparisons. At the same time, the UI should be clean enough to not mar the online shopping experience.
Here’s where crunching user data can come in handy. Analyzing user data can help you figure out features that are most important to your visitors. For instance, in the case of hotels, free Wi-Fi is one of the most important factors. Similarly, user data might suggest that distance from the hotel to the city center is an important factor for your visitors.
Such features should be prominent in your search results. In addition to that, here are some best practices to make your search results more lucrative:
- Photo Previews: If you’re showing hotels, allow your visitors to preview photos without leaving the search page.
- Sticky Search Bar: The search bar should always be at the top of the search page, allowing users to quickly edit their search criteria.
More than 50% of online shoppers abandon travel websites after seeing the final prices. While this might suggest a proclivity for comparison shopping, hidden fees are a pertinent issue, too. If you want to achieve higher conversion rates in a competitive market, it’s important that you’re transparent every step of the way. Mention if there are extra charges for Wi-Fi, any tourist taxes or cancellation fees.
Here are a couple of ways you can achieve transparency for your travel website:
- Mention Freebies, Too: If Wi-Fi is free, mention it. This helps develop a clear line of communication with visitors.
- Be As Thorough As Possible: If the booking amount is refundable up to a certain date and non-refundable thereafter, mention it as clearly as possible. The same goes for every other kind of extra charges that are applicable.
4. Social Proof
According to a TripAdvisor study, 79% of users read up to 12 reviews before booking a hotel. Reviews play a key role in the travel industry. That’s why it’s important to include user reviews prominently on your travel website. Here are some best practices to do so:
- Go For Third-Party Integration: TripAdvisor is one of the most trusted travel review websites. Third-party API integration is the best way to include genuine reviews on your website.
- Filter Reviews: Allow visitors to filter reviews according to top-rated hotels, destinations, etc.
- Go The Visual Route: To add more authenticity to your website, consider adding video reviews. You could offer freebies to travelers who submit video reviews to your website, such as a complimentary night at a hotel.
5. Selling An Experience
Millennials, particularly in the U.S., are increasingly prioritizing experiences over ownership. To differentiate your travel website from the rest, it can be a good idea to sell destinations and experiences instead of the portal itself.
For instance, your search form could have different travel experiences, such as food, hiking, fishing, etc., that people can choose from. Based on the dates selected or the season opted for, you can then give them destination suggestions in tune with the experience they’re looking for.
In addition to all of the above, general best practices for a great user experience include adopting a mobile-first approach, investing in good-quality images and paying attention to load times of your website. Integrating Instagram for crowdsourced images is also a good idea.
Developing a website that has a high conversion rate is always a repetitive process. Make sure you churn enough data and keep A/B testing to optimize different areas of your website. At the same time, it is important that your UX/UI is consistent enough to stay familiar and easy to use.