UX Design: 9 Travel Brands Getting it Right

UX Design: 9 Travel Brands Getting it Right

Booking a holiday - be it a flight, a cruise, a hotel, or all of the above - is a big decision. It’s a high consideration purchase that prospective bookers don’t take lightly.

But time and time again, site visitors are met with cluttered screens, complicated navigation and unintuitive fields on travel websites. These are just some of the features that understandably frustrate and lead to abandonment.

Average sector abandonment rate sits at a worryingly huge 81%, meaning that for every 100 users that visit a travel site, 81 of them are likely to leave it soon after.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. 9 travel brands are leading the way by offering potential bookers a user experience that goes above and beyond.

1. The visual timeline on Hipmunk

“Don't let planning travel drive you nuts”"Don't let planning travel drive you nuts" is Hipmunk’s brand tagline, which is undeniably a UX-driven motto. Like Kayak or Skyscanner, the travel brand compares prices and logistics for flights, hotels, package deals and more. What sets Hipmunk apart, however, is how it chooses to visualise large amounts of information. Instead of resorting to huge lists or screens cluttered with CTAs and colour, Hipmunk chooses simplistic data visualisation to convey all the options that a user has for their trip. This clever UX design helps create a stress-free online journey that is also very accessible.

2. Virgin Holidays’ ‘try before you buy’ VR strategy

2. Virgin Holidays’ ‘try before you buy’ VR strategy

To demonstrate just how great a Virgin holiday can be, the brand developed immersive experiences where prospective bookers can explore a destination before booking with virtual reality technology. It’s an exciting way of showing rather than telling what a user can expect if they were to choose Virgin over a competitor to plan their holiday.

3. The streamlined form fill on Cruise Compare

3. The streamlined form fill on Cruise Compare

Effective UX is all about creating a seamless and intuitive online journey that makes things as easy as possible. Cruise Compare does just that with its simple approach to searching for a cruise deal. The user fills out just 5 short fields, and is rapidly offered a variety of relevant cruise deals, with the option to edit and narrow down entered field details whilst reviewing the search results.

4. The intuitive planning function on Adioso

 4. The intuitive planning function on Adioso

“Flight search. Reinvented for humans.” "Flight search. Reinvented for humans."This brand tagline sums up Adioso’s USP. The brand has all the algorithmic intelligence you expect from a travel comparison site, yet the data itself is sorted in a way that is ‘human’. For example, you could type in a request such as, ‘London to New York leaving in about 2 weeks under £1,000’ and receive search results that can be viewed and then filtered by price, time, date and more. It’s this human approach to data that makes it stand out from competitors when it comes to UX.

5. The wishlist function on AirBnB

5. The wishlist function on AirBnBWhen searching for that dream trip or vacation, bookers will often do a lot of browsing to work out the best deal. The wishlist function on AirBnb helps users to keep track of places they might like to visit, whilst cleverly keeping the travel brand front-of-mind when the user is ready to make a booking. The feature is also an effective example of social proof, so bookers can see the amount of people interested in the same location. AirBnb effectively plays ‘the long game’ with its UX, by making it easy for users to bookmark locations so that one day in the future they might choose to book with this brand over a competitor.

6. The dossier-style layout on i-escape.com

The dossier-style layout on i-escape.com

The best thing about i-escape.com is that it goes beyond simply an efficient online experience, making planning a trip actually enjoyable. Each “hideaway” has a curated page full of useful and intriguing information. It’s not just times, dates and itinerary, the standard details you’d expect from a normal travel site. Each location page is crafted with personalised copy alongside high spec imagery, top tips and highs and lows sections that are original to the site. This attention to detail as well as the pleasing dossier-style UX design are fun to navigate as an online user.

7. HostelWorld’s trust-building copy

7. HostelWorld’s trust-building copy

Travel sites are synonymous with high quality imagery, but the same can’t always be said with copy. Yet when crafted well, copywriting can be just the differentiator a prospective booker needs to choose one site over a competitor. HostelWorld expertly uses copy to implement trust and highlight just how good the brand’s customer service is. Phrases like “helping you” and “your booking is guaranteed” effectively position HostelWorld as friendly, supportive and trustworthy.

8. The door-to-door detail on rome2rio.com

8. The door-to-door detail on rome2rio.com

It’s common practice for a travel site to tell users how long a journey will take, be it a flight, a cruise or a coach transfer. But not many brands can offer door-to-door routes with a full itinerary, prices and suggested tips. As an experiment, I input a journey from Ve’s London office to our American counterparts in Boston. The level of detail provided in the site’s recommended route did not disappoint, from the number of dollars it would cost for connecting buses to car hire options and even carbon emission information. And the visualisation of all this data is methodical and easy to understand; key tenets of effective UX design.

9. TripAdvisor’s high quality user-generated imagery

TripAdvisor’s high quality user-generated imagery

A lot of good travel sites show high quality images, but TripAdvisor takes this one step further by making use of user-generated high quality images. With 97% of millennials posting their travel photos on social media, there’s a huge amount of great content out there, and TripAdvisor effectively harnesses this by creating an onsite culture of sharing photos. It’s deceptively simple, but the strategy works well to welcome people into the brand as active participants instead of merely brand ambassadors.


Did we miss any great examples of UX design in the travel sector? Let us know in the comments below.

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Posted by Ellie Hubble

Ellie is a Content Manager and spends her time reading, writing and getting excited about all things UX, digital and technology.