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Optimizing the traveler user journey

Oct 1, 2019

by Gian Caprini, Head of Digital Optimization

Understanding the user journey of your travelers is key to capitalizing on intent and loyalty. With insight into user behavior, you can identify more opportunities for driving ancillaries. There’s plenty of opportunity to capture, considering that global airline ancillary revenue reached $90bn in 2018[1]. So, where does the traveler’s journey begin?

The typical traveler goes through 4 stages:

1. Dreaming

    During the dreaming phase, there’s already some intent to book a holiday. However, 70% of people don’t know where they want to go when they first look for a trip[2], so this is an opportune moment to target potential travelers.

    The key question is, where are they seeking inspiration? Social media has changed the course of the traveler’s journey, with people turning to content shared by friends, co-workers and influencers online. A staggering 87% of millennials on Facebook said they use the social media site for travel inspiration[3]. It’s time to take note and leverage this trend by creating more travel content on social media.

    2. Planning

      Once a destination has been decided on, your travelers will be asking the following questions: how do I get there, where do I stay and what can I do?

      During this time, it is important to fully address these needs. Alongside the necessary transport information, destination maps and image galleries, why not offer neighborhood guides, video descriptions or first-person travel guides to a provide a complete and immersive experience. Give your travelers more reason to convert by allowing them to make a well-informed decision.

      No holiday is the same, so no booking experience should be the same. 57% of U.S travelers feel that brands should tailor their information based on personal preferences or past behaviors[4]. Use on-site and off-site personalization by creating ads based on past searches, past purchases and price ranges, – the more specific the better. Through cross-content promotion you are more likely to reach the traveler during this all-important consideration phase of the consumer decision journey[5].

      3. Booking

        After all the browsing and research, it’s time to book flights, hotels and activities. However, just because the traveler has reached the purchase stage, your work isn’t over.

        To achieve conversions, your booking experience must be optimized and to fully optimize you need to understand your users’ behavior. 94% of leisure travelers will switch between devices as they plan and book their trip so being mobile friendly is a must[6]. You don’t want to risk deterring travelers. For more guidelines, check out our in-depth guide to UX for hotel bookings.

        Your traveler has booked their flight, but you want them to attach more. At this point, they are in the awareness stage in terms of booking further ancillaries, such as hotels. Increase awareness by offering dynamic package rates for hotels at the point of flight purchase and reinforce this with hotel cross sell content within the flight confirmation email to increase familiarity. These well-timed messages will push your travelers through the funnel quicker.

        4. Sharing

          Your travelers have arrived at their destination, but their user journey is not yet over. Managing the post-purchase stage is key to establishing traveler loyalty.

          60% of all travelers and 97% of millennials share photos online whilst on holiday[7]. Embrace this trend and engage with social media channels to encourage sharing amongst travelers. Who do customers trust most? Each other. Promote user generated content online to encourage consumer advocacy and in turn trust.

          Additionally, offer your travelers an incentive to book their entire holiday with you. Discounts and promotions are just one way of driving loyalty. But why not consider more personalization, improving the end-to-end experience for the traveler, or introducing a points-based loyalty program? Reward programs allow you to create a simple but strong and unique value proposition around your brand. This could include reward nights or secret member prices, which create a sense of exclusivity for your travelers. Loyalty is notoriously hard to retain, highlighting the importance of differentiating your value proposition.

          Key takeaways:

          • Create useful content catered to the traveler needs at each stage of the journey, focused on the traveler experience.
          • Ensure that ancillary products are offered to qualified travelers at every stage of the flight journey.
          • Drive ancillary business growth with a unique value proposition centered around loyalty.

          Find out how the EPS Digital Optimization team could help you drive bookings on your site through package rates, member only deals and on page optimization.

          Find out how








          [7] PhocusWright’s European Traveler Technology Survey 2017