Travel companies are losing out on millions of pounds in online sales by failing to follow up on customers who abandon orders during the booking process. 

A survey of businesses working online found only 17%  made an effort to follow up bookings valued in excess of £2,500 that were abandoned before completing the payment process.
 
The quickest responded in 54 minutes.  The slowest took more than two days.

Optilead, a specialist online-conversion company, carried out the survey. Director Steve Lawton said: “It’s unbelievable companies are ignoring what are obviously hot leads.”
 
“Travel agents don’t let visitors walk into their High Street shop without an agent acknowledging them, so why do they allow it to happen online?” 

Lawton said: “We identify more than £15 million worth of abandoned web bookings a month for one of our travel clients and they successfully recover over £1m through a targeted outbound campaign.

“Scale that up across the whole industry and the opportunity is massive.”

An ‘abandoned cart’ email is a popular way to target uncompleted bookings, but Optilead believes companies are ignoring the power of the phone.

Lawton said a recent survey of online travel agents showed an average click rate of 15.6% from abandoned cart emails and a conversion rate of 22.6%.
 
He said the value of conversions from phone calls was more than double that of an email campaign.
 
“The most effective strategy is to use both channels,” he said. “[Making] outbound calls to target higher-value leads, using email as a fall-back, and emailing lower value leads that don’t warrant a call.”