Travel Booking Insights

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Insights - Travel Booking Abandonment

Seven additional statistics, pieces of data, insights, or pieces of information surrounding travel booking abandonment include the fact that 17.6% of people who visit travel sites start the booking process, but only 3.1% complete the booking, cart abandonment was highest for travel sites with an 81.1% abandonment rate, and urgency messaging that tell travel site visitors how many people are viewing the same flight reduces travel booking abandonment by 8% when used well. Detailed information is in the next section.

Statistics, Data, and Insights

  • According to SaleCycle, 17.6% of people who visit travel sites start the booking process, but only 3.1% complete the booking. Some reasons for the abandonment include difficulty in selecting options, problems with completing forms, and trouble with processing the payment.
  • A report called 'The Remarketing Report — Q1 2018' by SaleCycle states that cart abandonment was highest for travel sites where 81.1% of customers left their order behind instead of making purchases.
  • Since travel purchases are generally expensive, many people shop around before deciding on purchasing. According to Tripadvisor, 80% of research on travel takes over four weeks to be finalized and this means that people visit several travel sites where they start and abandon several bookings before they make the final decision to make a purchase.
  • According to Statista and SaleCycle, in 2018, airlines had the highest cart abandonment rates with 87.87% of people abandoning their travel booking before making a purchase.
  • Writing for PhocosWire, the editor-in-chief for SaleCycle, Graham Charlton, believes that the long and complex travel booking process where visitors have to provide individual details such as passport numbers, seat preferences, and in-flight meals lengthens the booking process leading to frustration and abandonment of the booking process. Also, airline abandonment rates are steady throughout the year, between 87% and 89%, but they are generally lower in the months between September and December as this is a period with the lowest sales volume.
  • On-site messaging including urgency messaging, where people are given information to push them towards a decision, such as being shown messages telling them how many people are viewing the same flight, reduces travel booking abandonment by 8% when used well.
  • According to SaleCycle, 87% of people would consider returning to purchase a previously abandoned booking. Giving people an option to save their booking and sending timely booking abandonment emails can tempt people back to purchase a previously abandoned booking.

Research Strategy

To find seven additional statistics, pieces of data, insights, or pieces of information surrounding travel booking abandonment, our strategy was to search for relevant information from industry databases, publications, and reports. This strategy led us to sources such as PhocusWire, Statista, and SaleCycle, a travel technology company that has worked with over 90 of the world’s biggest travel companies and tracked more than 280 million online bookings and abandonments from their airline and travel clients in 2018. We also gathered insights from experts such as the editor-in-chief for SaleCycle. The sources provided seven statistics, insights, data, and information that we included in our findings.
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Travel Companies - Reducing Abandonment Rates

Triggered emails, ad-retargeting, greater clarity on pricing, guest checkouts, and discounts are five ways/tools travel companies can utilize to decrease their abandonment rates.

  • Among other industries and brands, cart abandonment rates are much higher for travel companies. About 81% of travel website visitors abandon their carts before checking out.
  • Although certain measurements can be taken to minimize cart abandonment rates, it cannot be stopped entirely.
  • Based on a survey, some of the common reasons for cart abandonment in travel sites include researching, price comparison/high-cost, checking with others, tedious booking process, technical issues, and lack of payment options.
  • However, nearly 87% of respondents also stated they would consider claiming the abandoned carts following an abandonment.


1. Triggered Emails

  • Triggered emails or email remarketing can act as a reminder to bring back potential customers.
  • Since most travel purchases require planning and consideration, sending a helpful email will prompt the customer/visitor to actually make the purchase.
  • According to SmartInsights, 44.1% of abandonment emails are opened and nearly, 29.9% of clicks lead to a purchase.
  • Approximately, 28.3% of all eCommerce revenue comes from successful abandoned cart emails.
  • As of May 2018, the travel industry had the second-highest 'email open' rate (49.43%).

2. Ad-Retargeting

  • Although emails are effective in turning visitors into buyers to a certain extent, in order to target a large portion of 'cart abandoners', ad-retargeting is one of the best hacks.
  • Retargeting ads use cookies to track the products left in the cart. "Then, the cookie informs the retargeting provider which ad to serve to the potential buyer. These ads will find shoppers wherever they browse".
  • About 30% of consumers greatly appreciate retargeted ads. While the remaining 59% and 11% remained neutral and expressed negativity towards retargeted ads, respectively.
  • 76% of retargeting ads are more likely to get clicks than regular display ads.

3. Clarity on Pricing

  • "Many online hotel booking websites often fail to show the total cost before check-out. It is estimated that 1/3 of carts are abandoned because consumers felt that additional costs were added at the checkout stage".
  • follows a transparent approach when it comes to pricing. It reveals the total amount upfront and it remains the same during checkout.
  • Since 39% of visitors examine travel websites for researching, lack of clarity in pricing will prompt them to abandon the cart.
  • Being authentic and upfront about pricing will enhance the respect visitors have towards the travel company which in turn will motivate them to return.

4. Guest-Checkouts

  • The majority of eCommerce platforms enforce account creation before buying. This leads to user frustration and increases the chance of cart abandonment.
  • "Approximately, 1 out of 3 consumers do not complete their purchase when they are required to create an account before buying. Unavailability of a guest checkout can be a big deterrent to shopping cart conversion".
  • Asking customers to enter personal details and verify emails can greatly hinder the checkout process.
  • Options to create accounts after the customer has purchased the product will increase purchase rates.

5. Discounts

  • Complimentary gifts, unexpected discounts, best values, and free services can prevent cart abandonment to a great extent.
  • Discounts give visitors a great reason to continue with the purchase. If the visitor is informed about the special offers, chances of them abandoning their booking is low.
  • Offering the best values and freebies make the visitors feel special. Extra services will create an impact on building valuable customer relationships.
  • The best strategy that can be applied when presenting discounts is to offer a 20% discount to new buyers and a 5% discount to existing customers. This will turn new buyers into potential customers and prompt existing customers to keep coming back.


Since cart abandonment is highly prevalent among eCommerce websites, in general, we were able to garner significant insights on how online travel companies can reduce their abandonment rates during the initial stage of the research itself. Our key focus was on discovering hard data to present a more authentic research brief. For this, we examined several media sources and blogs such as GeckoBoard, Baymard, Forbes, PushEngage, SaleCycle, Pure360, etc. We limited our search to data that was specific to the travel industry and collected five tools/ways travel companies can decrease their abandonment rates. The five tools/ways were selected based on repetition by comparing multiple sources.
Following this, we proceeded to find hard data for each of the insight that was collected. We scanned statistics databases and websites such as Statista, SmartInsights, McKinsey, Barilliance, Moosend, OptinMonster, and other similar websites. While these sources provided lots of data on the ways/tools travel companies can use to reduce cart abandonment, they were qualitative in nature and not quantitative. However, we were able to collect hard data for a few of the insights.

Our next approach was taken based on what we previously came across during the research where companies shared information on their blogs about how certain tools (abandonment emails, targeting ads, etc.) can be implemented to reduce cart abandonment. Also, it is to be noted these were tools or services offered by the companies themselves. In other words, the companies were backing up or promoting their own products. These were mostly digital marketing, ad targeting, and UX designing companies. We believed this approach would offer authentic insights because companies typically share success stories and case studies of their clients. And, case studies usually provide hard data. This approach was successful because we found hard data for some of the insights.
As our last resort, we performed a general search on shopping cart abandonment. The idea here was to find general insights and see if they can be applied to the travel industry. But, this only resulted in finding extraneous or irrelevant data. For instance, we discovered that one of the top reasons for cart abandonment in the fashion industry was concerns regarding size and fitting and the quality of the cloth. We found several other data that cannot be applied to the travel industry.

Based on what we discovered in the public domain, researches and surveys cover cart abandonment as a whole and do not bifurcate the insights or data based on the industry or sector. And, those insights which are bifurcated based on the industry are qualitative in nature. In nutshell, hard data on how online travel companies can reduce their abandonment rates is scarce in the public domain.
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Consumers - Booking Trips

Out of 1,500 American survey respondents (ages 18 to 70), 67% book their travel online; 76% are millennial travelers and 73% are Gen Z. Approximately 50% of baby boomers book online. Complete details about the differing habits in booking travel for Gen X, Gen Z, millennials, and baby boomers are presented below.

Booking Habits

  • In January 2018, millennial travelers from the United States booked their journeys via travel websites (64%), specific hotel/resort/airline/brand website (47%), over the phone with the specific hotel/resort/airline central reservations (24%), travel agent (24%), Airbnb (23%), online through tourism destination's website (22%), and other (4%).
  • 92% of millennials in the United States look for the best deals available and the most value for their dollars before booking travel because they crave variety. 57% of US millennials use online travel agencies to book travel more than any other particular travel site because they can compare prices and cross-shop.
  • Baby boomer booking habits for abroad trips: 31% have booked their 2019 trips by September 2018; up from 23% by September of the previous year in 2018 and 17% in 2017.
  • 48% of US smartphone users access their mobile devices to book and plan their entire trip to new travel destinations. 82% of travel bookings in 2018 were completed online by mobile app or website without human interaction, while 28% occurred offline.
  • According to survey responses from 1,500 American travelers from ages 18 to 70, 67% of respondents book their travel online (76% of millennial travelers and 73% of Gen Z). While in the baby boomer age group, more than 50% book online.
  • When looking specifically at online travel agencies (OTAs), Gen X (65%), millennials (76%), Gen Z (44%), and baby boomers (55%) most often booked travel by OTAs. In the Gen Z group, booking travel by destination review sites (42%) was nearly even with OTAs.
  • 72% of travelers choose online booking channels because of the ease of booking. Online booking channels tended to beat promotion from family and friends, personalized travel packages, payment options, and one-stop shopping (the exception was Gen Z whose top value was promotions from friends/family at 31% followed by ease of booking at 22%).


From Part 01
  • "In 2018, 74.58 percent of online shopping orders were abandoned, i.e. not converted into a purchase. Airlines had the highest cart abandonment rates out of all measured categories with an 87.87 percent abandonment rate."
  • "According to Tripadvisor, 80% of travel research takes more than four weeks to complete. This means that people will visit several sites before making a final decision, perhaps starting and abandoning several bookings as they go."
  • "According to our data, 17.6% of visitors to travel sites begin the booking process, but just 3.1% actually complete the booking. "
  • "While airline abandonment rates are reasonably steady throughout the year, between around 87% and 89%, they are generally lower in the months between September and December. This is also the period with the lowest sales volume, which shows that visitors reaching airline websites have a greater intent to purchase, with fewer visitors only researching for future holidays."
From Part 03
  • "Of those in the planning phase of their domestic travel, 88% have already selected a destination, an increase from 72% in 2018. For those going abroad, 31% have booked their 2019 trips by September 2018, up from 23% by September of the previous year in 2018 and 17% in 2017, according to the online survey. "
  • "1. In 2018 digital travel sales worldwide increased 10.4% to $694.41 billion. (Source: eMarketer) 2. Forty-eight percent of U.S. smartphone users are comfortable researching, booking and planning their entire trip to a new travel destination using only a mobile device. (Source: TrekkSoft)"
  • "In this second post looking in detail at the Mastercard and WEX 2018 Travel Trends report, we take a look at US travelers’ booking behavior and preferences. The survey of 1,500 American travelers ranging in age from 18 to 70, found that, typically, 67% of respondents book their travel online with 73% of Gen Z and 76% of Millennial travelers doing so. Even in the Baby Boomer age group, more than half book online."