Amadeus has published a report which shines a light on traveller motivation and the cognitive processes that lead to conversions. The old saying ‘you’re spoiled for choice,’ plays a significant role in booking hesitation.
“The Importance of Understanding Travelers’ Motivation” takes as its starting point the fact that online channels can give consumers a broad range of choices to consider, so sales channel design that inspires purchase is critical. Consumers may have difficulties making decisions when they do not perceive a clear differential between one offering and another, when they have too many options to process, or when they lack the full context on the options available.
One factor affecting the traveller’s decision-making process is cognitive bias. As the authors of the report explain:
“[Cognitive bias] overrides rational considerations. Individuals create their own sense of ‘subjective social reality’, leading to faster, easier decisions. For example, at a basic level, some people may be drawn to a specific destination if it is seen to reward them with greater social capital. Even, if rationally, that destination may not offer all the amenities they would typically seek.”
Another example, which might help airlines in this context, is presenting fare differentials blended with up-selling.
Travelers may have difficulty choosing between a London to New York direct ticket in Economy for €650 and a non-direct ticket for €550. However, if a third option is added to the results that includes Premium Economy direct for €700 then they are more likely to gravitate to that option. This is because they can perceive the value of the fare more immediately, and have a positive association with “Premium”.
Consumers are eager to perceive value quickly and speed up their decision making process. Most people would rather be traveling than booking their trips. Travel companies must therefore design their offerings to inspire rapid bookings.
Rodrigo Acuna Agost, Head of AI Research, Amadeus predicts:
“In 5 to 10 years’ time, travelers will spend much less time arranging travel and much more time enjoying the travel experience.”
Amadeus identifies four areas that travel companies can focus on to persuade customers to buy at different points in the journey.
- Inspiration and shopping: Systems that suggest and predict travel choices will deliver a greater personalized experience, making travel planning speedier and will increase conversion rates for travel providers.
- Booking: Artificial intelligence will likely run in the background and help travel providers and sellers, such as airlines and OTAs, better define their offer and price it dynamically.
- In-trip: A future without paper documents and queues, where digital travelers are constantly connected. AI driven travel assistants and biometric identification will become the norm.
- Post-trip: More post-trip review systems will allow people to share their experiences, and AI systems will use these reviews to improve the travel experience for travelers in the future.
While artificial intelligence will help sort through the many options and limit selections to fit the consumers’ need, it is not the only tool available.
One critical element is maintaining an ongoing dialogue with customers who have shown interest, in the same way that other e-commerce sites do. That can be accomplished through content that is more likely to engage—both in correspondence and in the design of the sales channel. In fact, a number of “tweaks” to the sales channel can offer a better boost to conversion than AI-applications alone.
Amadeus cites findings from Impact which show that AI-based systems versus A/B testing for personalization can improve conversion 35%.
- Adding human images to content channels can boost sign-ups by 102%
- Re-designing the pricing page can increase conversions by 25%
- Changing the color of the call-to-action button so that it is more visible on the page can increase conversions by 21%
- Reducing form questions can improve conversations by 35%
- Adding live chat can improve conversions by 211%
- Adding video improves email opt-ins by 100%
The full Impact report is worth exploring for inspiration on a range of content improvements.
Multichannel and mobile presence are also critical for travel brands to maintain the bond.
As Amadeus reports:
“The combination of channels, such as mobile or ambient interfaces with rich data sources, is opening new opportunities to serve travelers along their journey — depending upon when and where they need it. When you consider that 70 percent of destination content is booked onsite at the destination, and that the vast majority use offline methods, it’s clear that mobile has the potential to transform this aspect of the industry.”
There are more opportunities for upselling after the booking deliberations are completed. Once consumers have committed to the purchase, add-ons that would enhance the journey (before and during) are easier to sell because they require less consideration and, as standalone prices, ancillaries may encounter less resistance. The key is predicting what “add-ons” are most likely to sell in the travel context.
For example, consumers may be more willing to spend on an upgrade hours before they face a long flight or just before they arrive at the hotel than weeks before. They may be more eager to book an attraction in real-time once they are at the destination rather than commit in advance to being somewhere at a specific time.
Travel brands must be able to reach consumers at these potential pain points – or pleasure points – anticipating the need, either through email, SMS, or via an app. There are countless opportunities for creativity in this area—to shake up the process and offer customers both relevant and desirable.
As Amadeus writes:
“It remains an industry challenge to focus on each traveler in a way that is personal and considers both stated desires and wants, as well as deeper and unexpressed needs and motivations.”
Importantly, travel brands should not pigeon-hole their customers, assuming that because they behaved in a particular way when they first booked the ticket they will behave in the same way on the trip.
As Alexis Batlle, CEO and founder, AVUXI, says in the Amadeus report:
“The psychology of the traveler matters, but it is not just that. The psychology of the specific trip is important too. We all have temporary personas, so what we need to reach for is psychological understanding combined with context. It’s also important to recognize humans are humans, we are not always predictable.”