How travel brands can tackle cart abandonment
4 min read

How travel brands can tackle cart abandonment

Cart abandonment is an issue facing many brands in the age of online purchasing. But nowhere is this more obvious than in the travel industry.

In fact, travel marketers are facing many challenges linked to changes in consumer behaviour. With a longer sales cycle, numerous touchpoints, competition from emerging OTAs, D2Cs, and an oversaturated market – it’s a wonder that purchases are completed at all!

But with the right tools and an effective strategy, travel brands can reduce their own abandonment rates and gain a greater return on investment (ROI) for their advertising.

The stats

The figures support the assumption that travel marketing is in crisis.

Between basket and checkout, there is a 20% drop off rate. In fact, less than 1% end up confirming their purchase.

This adds up to nearly $1.78 trillion of incomplete travel purchases annually.

The stats do not inspire confidence when compared to other industries either. Cart abandonment rates in travel are as high as 81% in contrast to just 68% across other online retail.

These figures are worrying for the future of online travel marketing. And they require action by marketers to bring statistics in line with other industries.

But first, what are the issues that they need to address in order to fix it?

What’s wrong with travel marketing?

Why are travel brands struggling to make that final conversion? What is it about their websites, advertising, and branding that fails to turn heads?

It is important to note that travel marketing is one of the most competitive and complex industries to market to of all. In a recent study by Google, it was found that the average consumer browses over 500 touchpoints in their journey to find the perfect holiday.

What’s more, customer loyalty is not what it once was – there is fierce competition, with the focus more on what and how rather than who is offering it.

Nevertheless, there are certain mistakes travel marketers make that do not help their cause:

1. Not being upfront about pricing

A survey by sales cycle found that 53% of shoppers abandoned their cart when shown the final price. This is reflective of the fact that many travel brands add additional costs before checkout. But without consumer trust, how can you expect that final sale?

2. Poor user experience

Mobile-first is all anybody is talking about in marketing these days. Optimising for mobile should be at the forefront for advertising and website design. And yet, many travel consumers still prefer to book their holidays on desktop.

Why is this? According to Tnooz, 32% of bookings on mobile are abandoned because of slow load times. Simple changes such as defaulting to a numeric keyboard for payment details can greatly enhance the user experience.

3. Failure to localise

For global travel brands, being able to localise your advertising and your website is important for higher conversion rates. If your ads speak the language of your customer, why should your checkout be any different?

Failure to offer a conversion calculator for different currencies has been reported to impact on final sales across industries, not just travel.

4. Requesting unnecessary information

Brands that request too much information at the point of booking risk losing customers this way too. In fact, you lose 10% of customers for every unnecessary field at checkout.

So request only the necessary information. Take learnings from airlines. They typically ask for further information nearer to the time of travel, when payment has already been secured. Thereby bypassing issues with overly laborious checkout processes.

5. Failed retargeting

Cart abandonment is an unavoidable fact of online shopping, but many brands fail to implement an effective retargeting strategy.

Whether that’s through email retargeting or display ad retargeting, both offer opportunities to encourage customers to return to your site before their basket goes cold.

So what does effective display retargeting look like?

Across the travel industry, brands are using dynamic creative with retargeting to attract customers back to their page. And for travel marketers to meaningfully reduce their cart abandonment rates, retargeting is increasingly important.

In fact, it is reported that without retargeting, 8% of abandoners will return to site, but with retargeting – this rises to 20%.

In order to do so effectively, there are some best practices that you need to follow:

1. Time is of the essence

A study by MIT states that shopping carts go cold within the first hour. So make sure whatever ads you pursue are placed in front of the viewer within a timely manner (no one wants to see that matching man and dog Christmas jumper chasing you into the new year).

2. Target across channels

Omnichannel is important in this multi-device driven world. If their cart was on desktop, no reason why your ads shouldn’t target on mobile too.

This has been difficult in the past with traditional cookie tracking. But with deterministic and probabalistic tracking set to make an impact in 2019 and beyond, omnichannel retargeting will become increasingly common.

3. Effective tagging system

Choose which tagging system is right for you and your brand. JavaScript pixels or list-based retargeting – it all depends how personal you want to be with your retargeting strategy.

And plan your pixel implementation accordingly. Pixels placed at the checkout should trigger checkout relevant ads, in contrast to the other more standardised retargeted ads for the rest of your site.

4. Tailor to customer/product

With dynamic creative optimisation (DCO) solutions you can link display directly with your product inventory. So each ad can be tailored to show a product that the viewer has expressed interest in.

What’s more, you can enhance your ads with rich media; carousel features or interactive elements that will engage viewers more than static boring ads.

5. Analyse and optimise

Even if you think you have created the perfect ad, make sure to test that that is actually the case. Use analytics tools to see results on how your ads are performing and optimise in real-time. Abit of A/B testing wouldn’t hurt either.


Ultimately, tackling cart abandonment is not a quick fix, or dependent upon just one element. In fact, at every step of the user journey, it’s important to consider the customer experience for the best results.

However, for the most effective strategy retargeted ads should be an integral element of your online marketing. Retargeted ads are 76% more likely to be clicked on and 336% more likely to convert than regular ads and far more likely to get customers to return to your site.

For more advice on how to create high performing display advertising get in touch with us.

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