Growing CRO: your guide to unlocking travel insights with conversion optimisation

Radoslaw Dutkowski
May 16, 2021

CRO is not new to e-commerce and is already a familiar acronym for most travel retail organisations. Tools enabling this optimisation have been on the market since the dot-com bust (which could be considered nearly a millennia in internet speak). 

With so much familiarity and a plethora of tools and experts, not to mention the insights and revenue to be had, why is CRO not immediately the top priority of airlines today? The answer lies perhaps in the composition of most airline CRO environments, where histories of failed experimentation or budgets sidelined by the pandemic have strangled any chance at growth. So how do you start from the ground up?  

Is your organisation ready for conversion optimisation?  

Many airlines are unwittingly limiting conversion and upsell opportunities. With limited resources - and in some cases limited capability - optimisation experimentation is sometimes viewed as a secondary activity. 

Those airlines with an experimentation process defined often run purely superficial tests leveraging information available only through their data layer (e.g. default data generated in their booking flow). And usually, the information in the data layer is limited to what is important from the vendor perspective for processing booking and management flows. Often as well, these vendor-first data layers don’t permit the kind of advanced segmentation that brings rewarding insights. 

To make matters worse, trying to add additional variables through existing booking engine providers is usually costly and time-consuming as these typically amount to a change request, which requires internal approval and extends the process.

Time-to-market is integral to running an effective and successful e-retail business. An opportunity that occurs one day can disappear the next, while implementation timelines can easily stretch beyond that window.  

Whilst the ability to conduct complex experiments is required to be considered a CRO-focused organisation, there is another factor of equal importance: the number of experiments. Research conducted by CXL found “only 20% of CRO experiments reach the 95% statistical significance mark. For those experiments that did achieve statistical significance, only 1 in 7.5 showed a lift of more than 10%in the conversion rate”.  

In CRO, more is more. 

For meaningful optimisation, airlines and travel organisations must conduct multiple experiments to find the precise variation that uplifts the conversion rate.However, limited resources and scalability typically prevent organisations from reaping these benefits.

 

Typical Airline & Travel CRO Challenges

 

Due to current resourcing constraints at many airlines, there are few, if any, dedicated CRO teams or experts. In cases where sufficient analytics and optimisation tools have been implemented, a lack of training prevents airlines from utilising these tools to their full capability. 

 

In the wrong pair of hands, CRO and optimisation tools often won't yield actionable insights and thus scaling the number of tests and winning formulas is futile. It is important to keep in mind that often when negative feedback reaches the business, CRO programmes are cut short or their funds diverted. This kills any culture of experimentation in its infancy, and is counterintuitive .

 

So, who do you need to make CRO work for your airline? 

 

Ideal CRO Team

Airlines do not need to look far to build their own CRO A-team. In fact, leading CRO teams typically hold the following diverse skillset: 

 

- UX/UIDesigner 

- Front EndDeveloper (Full Stack in advanced scenarios)

- OptimisationAnalyst

- CRO Projectmanagers

 

But even with the right team in place, you still need to adhere to certain processes like gospel in order to deliver winning insights and strategy.  

 

How to achieve success in three key CRO areas

Like any science, there are three areas of a CRO programme that must be methodical and process-driven in order to achieve results.

 

Optimisation

  1. Assist in experiment feasibility analysis including analysing experimentation requirements, reviewing them with commercial teams and if needed, defining the sizing of the development
  2. Implement experimentation code, deploy within the commercial channels, and configure experiments analytics
  3. Test experiments to ensure the successful implementation for the correct target audiences, devices and browsers are confirmed
  4. Launch and monitor experiments, including releasing experiments in production and executing final configuration & sanity checks
  5. Support other experimentation-related requests as necessary

 

Analytics

  1. Implement and test advanced tracking requirements, such as customisation of current parameters, creation of tailored-made variables and dimensions/metrics
  2. Assist in defining new tracking requirements, creating implementation documentation, testing implementations as well as configuring parameters
  3. Customise, implement, and test advanced marketing and conversion scripts
  4. Provide help on advanced reporting and dashboard services
  5. Support other  analytics-related requests as necessary

 

UX/UI Design

  1. Create several design  variations for experiments
  2. Recommend design inconsistency improvements and potential test candidates
  3. Support other experimentation-related requests as necessary

  

Conversion optimisation is continuous experimentation

Bottomline

Nailing conversion rate optimisation is tricky, but for anyone looking to start or update their programme, there are several key things to remember that should steer your endeavour to success: 

  • Access to data is available but the relevant skillset (e.g. Javascript, UX etc.) is needed to unlock it
  • For advanced optimisation, you must adopt continuous, complex experimentation practices
  • Finding a variation that has a meaningful effect on the conversion rate requires running a lot of tests, which will fail or come up short without the support of a dedicated  team of UX designers, developers, and optimisation analysts
  • Hidden data can be unlocked by developing sophisticated scripts that dig beneath the IBE information layer. This is where the real golden insights lie, which in turn lead to more accurate targeting and stronger personalisation (e.g. offer  products/upgrades to travellers who are due to fly in 5 days to a particular destination).

 Even with all of the above in mind, getting a new CRO initiative off the ground can be a struggle due to resourcing or budgeting constraints. That's where Branchspace comes in – we have a team of e-commerce optimisation experts ready to help with whatever you need, from guidance on analytics and UX to running full-blown conversion experimentation programmes. To find out more about how we can help you boost your conversion rates, get in touch.