How often do you fly? Some people fly weekly for business, others make bi-annual luxury trips to exotic resorts, some only fly once a year or even less. Whoever you are, we’re sure you would agree that purchasing a flight is an expensive and often a daunting process. At the same time, it can mean a lot of turnover for the companies involved.
Whether an airline or airport, a website must balance persuading a customer to make a purchase and being sensitive towards the customer’s needs. In other words, they must feel confident moving around a website and secure in their booking.
The homepage tends to be where most visitors first land on a website.
- Does it accurately represent the airport’s brand and identity? Is this audience families or couples? Are these luxury or budget holidays? Make sure your home page answers these questions.
- Is the navigation accessible, clear and visible? Do the options on the navigation bar reflect what visitors are often looking for on an airport website? For example, a common reason people visit an airport website is to check live arrival and departure times. Is there a link for this on your navigation bar? A great example is Dubai Airport’s website, which was titled The World’s Leading Airport Website 2015 – on the homepage a call-to-action allowing visitors to find out their flight time as soon as they arrive on the website.
- Are there clear signposts pointing visitors who would like to make purchase in the right direction (booking forms, available flights, etc)? Are visitors who have already made a purchase directed to security information, checking in or food and leisure in the airport.
Is your site too cluttered? If a user can’t easily find flights, they aren’t going to book them. Make their journey from landing on the home page right through to processing their payment as simple and easy as possible.
Allow for breathing room – if you have too many widgets, options and links crammed onto one page, it will take more time and effort to navigate the site, which means a poor user experience. Lets take Cathay Pacific’s website for example:
Upon landing on the homepage, we have a large, attractive image in the background and a navigation bar along the top. We also have signposts for paid visitors (check in, manage booking) and for those who would like to make a payment (book trip). The site isn’t cluttered with information and looks sleek and tidy. The navigation is large, clear and spaced out. If we scroll down…
Again, there’s plenty of space between content, which allows the user to look around the website more efficiently and will therefore gain more information in a shorter space of time. White space is not a bad thing if used correctly – use it to make the website look clean and airy, not to make it seem empty.
Simplifying Your Booking System
If a visitor has made it as far as your booking system, you’re probably about to make a sale.
So why ruin it with a bad user experience?
Some websites have a widget that allows users to begin the booking process straight from the homepage. For example, Alaska Airlines homepage:
Three simple questions kick-start the booking process efficiently and without bombarding the visitor with a daunting form to fill out. Virgin’s booking process is very user friendly – they use interactive calendars to help users to pick dates more easily, and drop down menus for locations and guest choices rather than forcing the user to type them in.
Errors in booking systems cause friction for users. It can be an unsettling process for a user to sit down and pay such a large amount of money in one go, and so it’s important to make them feel as secure as possible. Usabilla suggests that using the visitor’s IP address to set the default currency will help make them feel more secure and confident in their purchase.
Your Website Has Successfully Converted a Customer…What Next?
So the passenger has successfully made a booking. What next? They may return to the website in order to manage their booking or find out more information. They may have a problem with their booking and so the process needs to be as seamless as possible. Their experience is important if an airline or airport wants to create long-term and loyal customers.
KLM’s website has an option on the navigation bar clearly stating ‘Customer Support’, and upon clicking it the user will find a range of potential questions and concerns, which when selected will come up with a pre-populated answer. This helps the majority of customers find an answer quickly and easily without having to send an email, message over social media, or pick up the phone. However, in the event that their concern is not included in the menu, their are links to different platforms where they can contact the company, such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as a designated support phone line to call.
User Experience ‘On the Go’
Google Travel Trends states that almost half of travellers who do mobile research will decide on their booking on their mobile, however they will move to another device to complete the booking, suggesting that the mobile experience was not sufficient. Some airlines have responsive websites (Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airlines) whereas others have a dedicated mobile website (Qatar Airways, Delta for example).
EveryMundo stated that 30-50% of traffic to airline websites is now from a mobile device. Many airlines and airports now have dedicated apps, such as Air France for example. The app is optimised for all platforms, and helps create a more personalised user experience – the user can book straight from the app, manage their booking and receive notifications about their trip in real time.
Now, that is mobile optimisation gone crazy. But it’s incredibly effective.
We work with the aviation industry to improve user experience both on and offline. Get in touch to find out how we can help your company be even better.