Understanding the psychology of your consumer is incredibly important for all online platforms, especially in the travel sector – which, as we all know, is so heavily influenced by both economic and emotional factors.

As a business, we consider the customer journey in everything we do and it is firmly at the forefront of every decision we make.

So why is understanding your consumer so important?

For one, as we’ve all seen in recent years, the travel industry is hugely sensitive to the economic environment; airlines, hotels and exchange rates fluctuate greatly as signs of instability show. Unfortunately, in the UK we’ve seen a downturn following Brexit – this teamed with the current heightened terror threat has lead to a significant drop in consumer confidence, which has the potential to have a detrimental effect on the demand for foreign travel. This diminished confidence is demonstrated in figures recently released by EasyJet and Emirates, who reported higher than usual losses for the 2016/2017 winter period. It’s essential that businesses combat this hesitance to book by ensuring consumers get the best possible experience when they come to your website.

As I’m sure we’ve all experienced, mass digitalisation has created waves across the industry for the last decade. As the power of the web grows, so does the power of the consumer, who now has a world of choice, recommendations and reviews at their finger tips. In essence, this revolution has shifted the entire travel and leisure industry from a seller’s to a buyer’s market.

To survive this, online businesses must adapt and evolve to reflect the savvier, more knowledgeable traveller. We’ve learnt that it is essential to familiarise yourself with your consumer, to ensure that you understand – with precision – the journey that they take through your website, the factors that motivate them to click through and the elements that perhaps discourage this.

With this in mind, as a holiday price comparison site we are investing greatly in consumer behaviour analysis. Significant time and resources have been dedicated to continually conduct consumer testing, to ensure that the customer experience is as exciting and user-friendly as possible.

What is critical to note, and something that many companies overlook, is that it’s not enough to simply adopt industry best practises for usability. One size doesn’t fit all, and making assumptions about your customer’s preferences can easily lead to missed opportunities for improvement.

To discover what makes your audience ‘click’ requires extensive testing. Using findings from user experience workshops as a starting point, our usability team then identified specific areas where the site was under performing and designed alternative versions for testing. Split tests were implemented on key call-to-action buttons, using increased search volumes, click-through rates, revenue per session and calls as indicators of success. The impact of each change was measured and monitored closely.

In the last year, after almost 100 tests our key findings were that:

- Editing copy on the holiday filter button increased click-through by 18%

- Trialling call-to-action options based on specific customer motivators found that an ‘expertise-focused’ call to action increased conversion by 17%

- Formatting the layout of the hotel pages in line with feedback from UX workshops increased conversion by 9%

- Enlarging the search bar on the home page increased the volume of searches by 3%

- Changing the colour of the call button increased calls by 2%

- Creating a large ‘View Deal’ button on the search pages increased click-through by 8%

As well as increasing conversion, understanding your consumer ultimately increases customer satisfaction, which in turn leads to more positive online reviews and social media sentiment – invaluable assets for all of us in the digital age.

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