If you run a travel site you understand the role continuous optimization must play at your company. Change can be hard, so I know some of you might not know where to begin. Here are 4 areas you should evaluate to get the most out of your travel site.

1. Make It Easy To Start The Process

Unlike other e-commerce homepages that try to sell dozens of products upon entrance, the travel site homepage can be hyper focused on an individual task. The best way to do this is to make the start of your process stand out.

Here’s an example by a travel site in Croatia (source: Carmelon):

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 10.31.47 AM

This Croatian based travel site tried to mimic Kayak’s horizontal layout, but it isn’t really working.

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 10.32.55 AM

Unfortunately, unlike Kayak’s super clean layout, this site has a busier homepage. The horizontal form just gets lost in the shuffle and people don’t immediately see how to start the booking process.

By adding a vertical form that stands out, the team saw a 52% increase in form fills and a 34.52% lift in total bookings! If your travel site doesn’t make the booking process immediately evident, your conversions will tank.

2. Test Those Results Pages

I love testing search results pages across nearly every industry. Historically, when done well, search results pages are a deciding sales factor. Search results pages are even more critical on travel sites because your visitors have very specific needs, e.g., dates times, and are looking for you to both meet these needs and provide the best offer.

The Netherlands based travel site, Kras.nl, is a testing juggernaut. On their search results page they’ve tested new layouts, ‘featured’ trips, adding more filters above the fold, and much more. If you’re ever looking for a new test idea, check out their site to get inspired.

Here’s a test example on Kras’ search results page:

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 10.35.03 AM

Source: Ton Wesseling Slideshare

There are several changes to this search results page, but the winner shouldn’t be that surprising. Version B increased bookings by 16.36%. Since this was an A/B test and not an MVT test there are no insights as to which element had the greatest impact.

The winning version showcased the price and had a clickable call to action. These elements are major difference makers! If your search results page doesn’t inspire action – you aren’t going to see more sales!

3. Maximize Profits With Cross-Sells

There are only three ways to grow your business, increase the number of sales, increase the amount people spend (AOV, RPV, etc…), and increase the purchase frequency. Travel sites are unique in comparison to other ecommerce sites. People expect cross-sells and up-sells.

Is someone just booking a flight? Try to get them to rent a car, a hotel, or even insurance on their purchase!

Even though people expect to be sold to, it’s important to test out where it is appropriate. It’s my personal preference to sell on the Thank You Page, but you can also sell on interstitial pages or even in the cart.

4. Develop A Return Path

If you don’t develop a return path for abandoned carts you are leaving money on the table. There are crude and refined ways to do this, and both are better than not having a return path for abandons.

Kayak has a relatively crude way to create a return path with their price alerts. You need to actively click ‘Create price alert’ and create an account to get updated about any price changes.

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 10.39.04 AM

A more refined way is to use advanced personalization tactics to create a better on site experience for frequent abandoners. A great tactic here is to use an exit intent triggered overlay to get the information you need to retarget this customer.

Once you have their email make sure to give the abandoner a nudge. Try testing out your abandoned cart email subject line to make sure your visitor open that email and become a viable prospect again.

Remember, the subject line has one job – to get the visitor to open. Don’t use a standard abandoned cart email subject line, this is your lowest hanging fruit - make them convert!

Here’s an example by Raileasy (source Wishpond):

Version A (Winner) - “Still looking for tickets to


Version B - “Haven’t found what you are looking for?”

Version A was the big winner and increased opens by 31% and sales by 38%. The personalized subject line really made the difference and is something your travel site should swipe immediately.

Hopefully you got some great ideas and can start implementing them immediately. If you’ve tested any of these or other elements, I’d love to hear about it.

Happy Testing!