Did you know your website’s users most likely take on multiple personas throughout the user journey? This means that, depending on where they are on your site or what they’re trying to accomplish, they’ll have different priorities, concerns, pain points, and behavior patterns. One of the biggest keys to seeing successful conversions on your website, then, is your ability to both target and personalize each experience to fit the user at a particular moment in their journey.
One of the most important steps travel and hospitality brands should take when creating a successful targeting and personalization strategy is to identify their new versus returning visitors. Why? Because we always want to grow our customer base by attracting and converting new visitors while simultaneously increasing loyalty and repeat purchases with existing clients.
How to approach new vs. returning users
It’s no surprise that the user journey for the travel industry is typically longer than other ecommerce sites since travelers usually need a little more time to research their purchase and make decisions about high-priced purchases like airline tickets, hotel stays, or vacation packages. To simplify and optimize this longer conversion funnel, travel brands should tailor the user experience at each step by educating their customers about their product, important offerings, and promotions and only showing users content and calls to action that are relevant and valuable to them.
For example, Royal Caribbean does a good job here of promoting to new users based on their specific location. In this case, Royal Caribbean was targeting Florida visitors:
But notice how the site adjusts itself for returning users. In the following experience, Royal still shows the promotion to remind its users of the offer, but they also showcase an easy-to-see retargeting banner that helps the user continue where they left off in the funnel, allowing them to simply pick up from their last session rather than having to start a brand new search.
After purchasing a cruise, for example, users typically move on to booking their dining and beverage options and shore excursions. Regardless of the cruise line, there are usually lots of product offerings at this stage in the journey, often overwhelming or confusing users. To help new customers through this daunting process, we recommend narrowing their choices, making it easier to quickly find what they are looking for based on their interests. In the example below, Celebrity Cruises introduces a wizard to help users narrow their choices of shore excursions based on their personal interests and activity level. By doing this, Celebrity discovers what their customers like and then offers them products that will help in their decision-making process and move them toward a successful purchase.
For returning visitors, however, the wizard will display a reminder about their past behavior, as opposed to helping start their search for a new product:
Targeting and paid media
Paid media is crucial in driving traffic to a travel website. The challenge here, though, is figuring out how to give your user a targeted experience when they’ve come to your site through paid media. First off, paid media visits are almost always more qualified leads for your brand since they have already searched for specific terms that align with your product offerings and they generally know what they are looking for.
In the examples below from a New York travel website, you can see the two different approaches to users who come through paid media. The control version of the site offers a tremendous amount of content for users who need to research before purchasing tickets to a Broadway show. However, the proposed version is much more simplified, less cluttered, and focuses on the “Add to Cart” CTA rather than the “learn more” approach in the Control.
The most important thing to keep in mind here as you set up a targeting and personalization strategy for your site is that your user personas are not static or unchanging; rather, they can and do change depending on where they are in the user journey. Understanding how to meet their changing needs is key to personalizing their experiences and optimizing your conversion funnel.
As with any digital optimization strategy you build, you’ll want to 1) start small and aim for quick wins to get going 2) define your approach and research your (new and returning!) user behavior 3) launch new, optimized experiences 4) analyze the findings and make any necessary adjustments and 5) repeat your successes!