Why Tour & Activity Operators Are Losing 70% of Bookings and What to Do About It

by Ian Maier

The idea that 69.23% of your online visitors initiate checkout but abandon at the last minute can be nerve racking.

This behavior is largely known as “cart abandonment” and is coined “booking abandonment” by the tour and activity industry. Booking abandonment happens when an online visitor begins to book a specific activity but leaves the checkout without completing a purchase.

The Baymard Institute has aggregated cart abandonment data across various industries for more than 11 years. Unfortunately, cart abandonment is real. And it isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, despite major improvements in technology and design over 11 years, online abandonment rates have actually risen.

Average Cart Abandonment Rate By Year Graph

In 2017, for every $1,000 that enters your checkout, you will lose $692 of it. Abandonment hurts the the bottom line, and leaves a lot of money on the table.

Luckily, there are 2 basic ways to recover the revenue lost from abandoned bookings.

How to Reduce Booking Abandonment

1. Prevent abandonment before it happens

Booking abandonment can be preempted in the checkout process by improving the checkout experience. This is possible using a rigorous testing process called Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). CRO allows usability experts to test different layouts, design elements, and psychological triggers to make your checkout more intuitive, less complex, and more likely to generate revenue.

Effects of an optimized checkout

Or, find a booking platform that beats the average. Xola is proud to have a built a checkout that reduces abandonment by at least 1/5th the average.

 

Try Xola’s Abandoned Booking Features

2. Recover abandoned bookings later

Some will claim that an “optimized checkout” itself solves most abandonment issues. This is an exaggeration.

It’s human nature to test the waters before making a purchase. Some people are natural comparison shoppers. Some people just forget their wallet, or get easily distracted. There’s no technology or CRO expert in the world that will eliminate it completely. We must accept the fact that booking abandonment is a very natural part of the tour and activity buying cycle.

The ecommerce industry acknowledged this years ago, motivating marketers to develop powerful, non-invasive methods to recapture the attention of abandoners and convert “almost” customers into paying ones.

There are 2 effective ways marketers have found to recover abandoned bookings…

How to Recover Abandoned Carts

1. Email Recovery Campaigns

A 2015 SalesCycle study on the travel industry found that every abandonment email sent delivers over $8.21 in revenue.

That’s an average of all emails sent. Imagine you send 1,000 abandonment emails and only 100 of them lead to a purchase. That means that those 100 emails drove $8,000 in revenue alone!

Value of an Abandoned Booking Email

Compared to most other marketing channels, abandoned booking emails promise the highest return at the lowest cost. If you start anywhere in your remarketing efforts, we recommend starting here.

Abandoned cart emails are your chance to continue the conversation with an extremely important group of prospects: people that demonstrated a high amount of purchase intent but still didn’t buy.

Your job is to provide amazing customer service and find out why. To do that, send from a live monitored inbox and ask your customers for feedback. Address your customer by name, and ask simple questions like “Is something wrong?” or “Need help with your booking?”.

Abandoned Booking Email Example

This simple plain-text email alone has helped recover between 8% and 12% of lost revenue.

It’s common for prospects to reply to emails like this and provide real, qualitative feedback about their experience, or ask questions about the activity they’re booking.

2. Remarketing Ads

Abandoned booking remarketing ads work by displaying ads to people who initiate a booking, but don’t complete a purchase.

Abandoned Booking Ad Remarketing

The image above shows how the process works. A shopper initiates the booking process, but leaves without purchasing. You can then use a service like Google AdWords or Facebook Ads to display ads that follow the shoppers around on the internet, encourage them to return and buy your products.

Unlike most ads, abandoned booking remarketing ads show much higher conversion rates due to the high buying intent of the people they target.

Don’t Leave Money On The Table

Booking abandonment can be painful, but it doesn’t have to be. A well optimized checkout and strong abandoned booking recovery program is an easy and lucrative source of new revenue. Keep in mind that the two are more powerful when used together. An optimized checkout is important, but can only get you so far. A lot of people will abandon no matter how great the checkout experience is. Abandoned booking recovery campaigns promise great returns. But without an optimized checkout it’s really just a band-aid for much bigger problems.

At Xola we understand the pain of abandonment. That’s why we optimized our checkout to reduce abandonment by at least 1/5th the average, and offer our customers powerful remarketing features, including email and ad remarketing. Click here to learn more about Xola’s growth features.

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