SINGAPORE: Nine in ten potential bookings in the Asia-Pacific travel sector are abandoned before purchase, according to research which also demonstrates that retargeting with a degree of personalisation can successfully recover at least some of these.

At 96.5%, abandonment rates were highest at travel agents, said marketing technology company Ve Global, which analysed 58 million customer sessions between January 2017 and April 2018.

Airlines (91.6%), hotels (90.4%) and vehicle hire companies (88.9%) fared only a little better. The high-cost option of a cruise had the highest abandonment rate (98.6%) while the low-cost one of bus & coach travel had the lowest (79.4%).

In terms of countries, Australian travel companies were doing the best job in turning browsers into bookers, with a relatively low 82% abandonment rate. At the other end of the scale, Japanese customers looked to be the hardest to convert with 93.8% leaving their online baskets without completing a booking.

But APAC consumers appear receptive to remarketing strategies, with remarketing emails boasting open rates of just over 50%, while one in 18 emails results in a recovered booking (compared to a rate of one in 23 in Europe).

“Basic forms of personalisation have had a significant impact,” said Jamie Pierre, Managing Director at Ve APAC. “Something as simple as including a customer’s first name in an email subject line [was] found to significantly boost results,” he told TechWire Asia.

An analysis of 12 million emails over a four-month period found that this technique resulted in an email re-marketing open rate 65% , significantly higher than the 44% average for non-personalised subject lines.

Further, conversion rates leapt from 9% to 23% – 9% higher than Europe and 14% more than the Americas.

But Pierre cautioned against indiscriminately pushing offers in any such marketing. While these can provide the final justification customers need to make a purchase, he reported that APAC customers tended to be less receptive to email re-marketing communications that reference discounts.

Open rates dropped by 10% on average while conversion rates fell from an average 9% to 6%.

Sourced from Ve Global APAC, TechWire Asia; additional content by WARC staff