Asia Pacific’s travel and hospitality industry is set to rebound strongly, and Contentsquare’s Albert Nel shares the strategies necessary for building seamless web and app journeys.

Travel and hospitality (T&H) is bouncing back in Asia Pacific after a tough two years, with performance improving considerably in recent months. According to a new report by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), this improvement is only the beginning of what’s set to be a dramatic recovery.

Tourism revenue in APAC dropped by 59% in 2020, the largest drop worldwide. But now WTCC is predicting that APAC’s T&H industry may be the only one worldwide to recover fully by 2023 and is set to come back stronger than ever. By 2025, WTCC expects travel revenue will contribute 32% more to the region’s GDP than it did pre-pandemic.  

That’s exciting news for any APAC T&H brand but capitalising on the renewed (and increased) appetite for travel across the region will depend on how effectively those brands can cater to rising customer expectations around seamless and rewarding digital experiences.

Contentsquare’s 2022 ‘Travel Digital Experience Benchmark’ report analysed over 2.7 billion travel user sessions to discover what the benchmark is for digital experiences in travel and uncover findings to help T&H brands set priority areas for digital experience investment and ensure the success of their digital strategy in 2023 and beyond.

Here are three strategies from the findings to help build the seamless web and app journeys in APAC.

1. Don’t get ‘channel’ vision – your customers are everywhere

Today’s APAC consumer isn’t chained to one device. They’re browsing hotels on the move on mobile (23% of traffic) and booking trips on desktop (76% of traffic), not to mention heading back into brick-and-mortar travel agents. Often, they’ll do all three in the course of researching and booking their trips.

Today’s customer is largely device agnostic and consumers expect brands to meet them wherever they are and whenever they choose. Knowing and understanding this is the key to building truly exceptional experiences for your travel customers – across all devices. 

In order to create standout experiences across channels, brands need to understand what customers are trying to achieve and how they want to go about it. From casual mobile browsing sessions to analytical desktop sessions (and everything in between), it’s important to tailor customer journeys to the needs of each audience.

For example, when it comes to time spent browsing, users are more likely to spend longer browsing on desktop (7.8 minutes per session) compared with mobile (6.2 minutes per session). The same proportion is also reflected in the time spent during a buying session, with users spending up to 40 minutes on desktop compared to 33 minutes on mobile.

This indicates that mobile users prefer their journeys to be short and snappy, while desktop users are willing to spend more time looking for their next adventure.

Mobile experience is increasingly important in APAC and in order to win as many customers as possible in 2023, T&H brands need to ensure their mobile experience is smooth and logical. They can achieve this by using data-driven insights to optimise their mobile sites and apps. Only by understanding their mobile journey and the unique needs of customer segments can brands streamline their travel site’s UX to drive conversion rate and revenue.

Get your mobile experience right and the impact on revenue can be dramatic. We’ve seen this happen for many of the top global brands that we work with. For example, one leading global hotelier leveraged user experience insights to optimise its mobile booking experience and gained a US$95,000 increase in yearly revenue.

2. Respect your customers’ time or they’ll head elsewhere, fast

In a world of instant gratification, the best perk T&H brands can offer customers is respect for their time. From ensuring your booking process is as simple as possible to minimising loading times, customers deserve – and demand – seamless experiences.

Over 47% of travel website visitors in APAC abandon their journey after viewing just one page. This shows there’s plenty of work to be done by T&H brands to create seamless digital experiences that entice customers enough to stick around past page one.

Alongside bounce rate metrics, T&H brands should consider analysing the scroll rate and content engagement patterns for bounced visitors. This will help them to further refine high-traffic landing pages, ensuring visitors are easily able to find relevant, engaging and useful content, thus reducing the likelihood of them bouncing and increasing the likelihood of them booking.

Knowing that customers are bouncing isn’t enough – you need to know why they’re bouncing. And for that, you’re going to need more insights than traditional analytics tools can provide. You need a holistic view of the entire customer journey, including obstacles that are stopping customers from browsing and purchasing.

Accessing this insight into your customer journeys isn’t optional. As Contentsquare’s Benchmark report shows, the bar for digital experiences in T&H is getting higher all the time. If customers can’t get the seamless experience they’re after, they’ll quickly head elsewhere.

3. To convert customers, you’ve got to understand them, so get hold of first-party data

Today’s travel customer is clued up, happy to spend time researching the best deal and likely to shop around if they don’t get what they’re expecting. And currently, T&H brands in APAC are falling short in terms of meeting those expectations and securing conversions.

The average conversion rate is 0.7% for the T&H industry in APAC, which is still low compared to other regions. To get a read on how successfully you’re currently driving conversions, you should be measuring your conversion rate against industry benchmarks.

To improve conversion rates, T&H brands need first-party digital experience data and analytics to understand their customers’ mindset and behaviour at each stage of the journey, and adjust their digital engagements accordingly.

By turning to data platforms that help them drive intelligent action at an enterprise scale, T&H brands can get the first-party data they need to optimise their customer journeys to increase the number of people taking the desired action on their sites.

Customer experience is increasingly defining brands and becoming a factor that can shape the future of online engagement between brand and audience. With the WTCC report showing the sector is primed for growth over the next two years, APAC T&H brands must quickly adopt programmes to engage their travelling customers at scale with high-impact, intelligence-driven experiences.