For most travel companies, your website is the first place customers will go to interact with your brand. It doesn’t matter how remarkable your product or service is; if you’re not communicating your value and answering the question “Why?” you will lose the sale. But if people don’t like— or more specifically, don’t understand– your site’s user design, they will just move on to another brand who speaks their language.
Here are some examples of how to build a great website for the consumer in transit:
Does your website communicate who you are, what you offer, and what next step they need to take, all within 8-10 seconds? It should. Like most airline sites, the Qatar Airways homepage allows me to bypass all the fluff and make a “Quick Booking.” After selecting my country, menu options include “The Experience” (at the airport and on-board travel information) and “Privilege Club” (frequently flyer program).
These are appropriate terms to describe a carrier that’s won several “Best in the World” awards and calls itself the “World’s 5-star airline.” The average user understands what they’ll get when they click, while the language and the overall experience is perfectly in line with the brand.
Less Is More. Kind Of.
Travellers need straightforward, easy-to-digest information at all points of the journey cycle. If they’re just researching, they need to be able to navigate quickly and easily. But if they’re in transit, they might want a mobile-friendly version of the site. Consider each stage your customer will go through and provide them with useful, relevant information.
Just remember: doubling the amount of detail doesn’t make it twice as good. For instance, have a look at the Chauffeur Driven Car Hire website. With all those flashy links, images, and repetitive bits of copy, it’s hard to know where to start.
Don’t Hide Your Sales Channels
Marriott’s new homepage is clean and simple, consisting of six categories—deals, packages, meetings & events, etc.—displayed like a hand of playing cards, with the booking widget in the centre.
Contrast this with Starwood Hotels’ website, which presents the same information in the form of tiny icons on an overly cluttered homepage. I would have built these into the navigation menu (where is the menu, by the way?) and used a colour scheme that’s much easier on the eyes.
Give Them an Express Lane
Give users who aren’t sure, or are too busy to find, what they’re looking for what they need: an express lane. On a website, that’s a search box, visible on every page. And test it to make sure it actually works.
Fodor’s has a nice search function. When I type in “France,” my search results are broken down into “destinations,” “reviews”, and “guidebooks,” so it’s easy for me to zero in on what I’m looking for. Just make sure the search box is in the same place on every page.
Even if you pride yourself on an easy-to-navigate website, you’re alienating some of your potential customers without that little box.
You might be saying to yourself that these aren’t necessarily novel concepts. You’d be right; I never said they were. Novel concepts usually end up confusing people. Some principles of design will never change, nor should they.
So, what would a web-savvy but busy Transumer say about your website? If you don’t know, ask. Get some honest feedback. Survey some of your customers for their thoughts (and entice them with some freebies or a nice bottle of champagne for their trouble).
If you can’t get your customer to give you some realistic input, then pay an expert to do it. This is one of those situations where people won’t just come out and say that you have a problem; they’ll just keep clicking away until they find a brand that takes care of their needs, and never look back.