This article will help you:
  • Come up with ideas for your travel or hospitality site A/B tests
  • Design tests based on these ideas

This article provides split testing ideas for elements commonly found on travel sites. You may want to run these experiments using Optimizely on your travel site. For each example, we've provided a common default example and an alternate concept, with ideas of what to test and how to measure.

How to use this guide

Consider this article a starting point for your optimization efforts. After all, experience optimization is a journey, not a destination. The tests you run will help you discover what works (or doesn't) for your visitors, so it's important to pair the ideas in this guide with research on your site or app's true opportunities and obstacles.

DO:

  • Use this guide as a starting point to identify opportunities for your site or app
  • Use the ideas from this guide that help you answer key questions about your users, or move key metrics
  • Pair the ideas we've presented in this guide with data from your analytics platforms and user feedback, so you run tests that explore identified issues

DON'T:

  • Use this guide without also looking at your qualitative and quantitative data
  • Try to test every idea in this guide
  • Use these test ideas verbatim without thinking about how to adapt them to your experience

If you're looking for other ideas, or you can pay it forward and help other optimizers, please share with our Optiverse Community!

Key metrics for travel and hospitality sites

  Home Page Flight Results Book Flight Passenger Details Flight Options Payment Page
Primary and Secondary Goals
  • Searches submitted
  • Category tabs
  • Deals
  • Frequent Flyer
  • Flight selection
  • Filter Usage
  • Refine Search
  • Sort Order
  • Continue button
  • Edit search
  • Upsells
  • Field completion rate
  • Continue button
  • Continue button
  • Upsells
  • Seat selection
  • Conversion rate
  • Payment type
Monitoring Goals
  • Checkboxes
  • Flight tracker
  • Home Page clicks
  • Menu interactions
  • Site search
  • Home Page clicks
  • Menu interactions
  • Site search
  • Field error rate
  • Home Page clicks
  • Menu interactions
  • Site search
  • Shopping Cart Page views
  • Home Page clicks
  • Return to previous page
  • Edit address, information
  • Error rate

Learn more about setting primary and secondary goals.

Home page testing opportunities

Your homepage is the entry point to your site, and it sets the tone for your brand's value and site's offering. It has a high traffic volume and will more quickly collect data. We'll discuss several types of tests to run on your home page's navigation, as well as content encouraging return visits.

Search Landing Page

A dedicated landing page with an uncluttered layout and clear CTA simplifies the UX and promotes engagement with search.

Common Default:

Search presented as a side module adjacent to hero image and offers.

What to Test:

  • Increase size of search input fields
  • Locate offer details below fold or separate pages
  • Remove redundant menu navigation
  • Change copy that clarifies site differentiators
  • Pre-populate search inputs with trending searches or searches that qualify for special offers

What to Measure:

  • Increase searches
  • Decrease homepage bounce rate

Test Benefits:

  • Evaluate how users respond to more prominent search and less prominent offer details
  • Evaluate how entry into the funnel (focused search vs. offer links) affects conversion rates

 Alternate Concept:

Simple landing page with clear call to action.

Dedicated CTA for Package Offers

Dedicated CTAs compete for user attention, but also encourage users to engage with features that they otherwise may not have considered.

Common Default:

Primary search CTA complemented by tabbed navigation for flights, hotels, etc.

What to Test:

  • Add CTAs for specific types of search
  • Locate specific offers and value propositions near CTAs

What to Measure:

  • Increase searches
  • Increase average order value

Consider:

  • Don’t remove navigation functionality to distinct types of search. Users should be able to clearly recognize how to navigate to focused search categories.

Alternate Concept

 

Dedicated CTA for flight-only search and flight + hotel search.

Denote Optional Search Inputs

Travel sites often feature elaborate search modules that request multiple inputs. Multiple fields may discourage engagement if the task appears daunting or the user does not have the requested information. It’s essential to communicate which fields are required for users to see more detailed content about their selected destination.

Common Default:

No clear indication of which fields are required

What to Test:

  • Add labels
  • Condense form

What to Measure:

  • Increase searches
  • Decrease homepage bounce rate

Test Benefits:

  • You may find that all you need to serve appropriate content is the destination field
  • Users may be inclined to browse offerings on a category/destination landing page; don’t impede discovery by requiring travel dates

Alternate Concept:

Optional fields annotated

Search Results + Checkout

Progress Bar

Travel sites guide users is various ways. UX best practice for all categories of sites is to avoid surprising users as they progress through the funnel. A clearly defined process flow encourages engagement by reassuring users of what they should expect in each subsequent page load.

Common Default:

No indication of where user is in the selection process

What to Test:

  • Insert process flow
  • Define primary task on each page

What to Measure:

  • Increase searches
  • Increase clicks to next stage in funnel
  • Increase purchase conversions

Consider:

  • Users may want to skip steps (i.e. check return flight information before departures)

Alternate Concept:

Process flow that defines tasks at each step

Stacked vs. Tabbed Flight Categories

Travel sites have different treatment for how users engage with multiple input fields on the same page. A tabbed experience is more in line with the design language of a progress bar and enables users to quickly view new information without having to reorient themselves to a new section of the page.

Stacked:

Required fields to progress through funnel located below the fold

What to Test:

  • Orientation of alternate page view
  • Collapsed vs. exposed calendar matrices (sequential process requiring user to select departing flight before return flight module is revealed)

What to Measure:

  • Increase clicks to next stage in funnel
  • Increase purchase conversions

Consider:

  • Users may want to review return flight options before they select a departing flight
  • Consistency between desktop and mobile layout

Tabbed:

Users can easily switch view between Departing and Returning flight categories

Package Cross-Selling

Presenting users with cross-selling content that they did not self-select is ripe for testing:. Some users may engage with it, others may ignore it, but what is critical to assess is if such content promotes page bounce.

Common Default:

Only results for user search displayed

What to Test:

  • Add offers that can be combined with specific entries in search results
  • Relocate package offer links adjacent to primary CTA

What to Measure:

  • Increase average order value
  • Increase purchase conversions

Test Benefits:

  • Evaluate how users respond to offers that are complementary to their initial search

Consider:

  • How packaged content is presented. Does clicking on the link load a new page or is the user able to view package details from the search results page?

Alternate Concept:

Cross-Selling through package offers even when user selected "flight only"

Sorting & Filtering

Functionality around refining search via sorting and filtering options is critical to effective UX design on travel sites. The way sorting and filtering options are presented can have a notable effect on engagement and click-through to the next stage in the funnel.

Drop-Down Menu:

Options are hidden behind menus

What to Test:

  • Present all options by default
  • Locate options in header or left rail
  • Add instructional labels (e.g. “Filter results by:”)

What to Measure:

  • Increase engagement with search results
  • Increase clicks to next stage in funnel
  • Decrease page bounce rate

Test Benefits

  • User interaction with specific sorting and filtering options may identify the most popular options and inform which options should be exposed

Buttons, Boxes & Sliders

 

 

All options are exposed without any required user interaction

Trip Review Offers

As another aspect of cross-selling in the final stages of the checkout funnel, it is common for travel sites to present offers ranging from travel insurance, to rental cars and tickets to attractions. Evaluate how prominent you should feature such offers as to encourage click-through to checkout

Travel Insurance:

First offer in trip review process before checkout

What to Test:

  • Location/order of offers
  • Level of detail (collapsable fields)

What to Measure:

  • Increase average order value
  • Increase purchase conversions

Consider:

  • Users must always be aware of their progress through the funnel. If offers disrupt this progress and confuse users as to how many steps away they are from final conversion, they are less likely to progress.

Transportation + Activities

First offers in trip review process before checkout

 

Disclaimers and other information

This article provides Optimizely customers with a resource for learning about common testing ideas on travel and hospitality websites. The specific examples were chosen at random from Optimizely customers and non-customers alike. The examples are purely a representation of what could be tested and are not necessarily representative of actual tests that have been run. No explicit test data has been shared without the explicit consent of the customers.