, Singapore

Why online travel agencies need to master their networks

By George Wilson

In Singapore, revenue in the Travel & Tourism market is expected to reach US$3,402m by 2023. Furthermore, it’s thought that a whopping 79% of this revenue will be generated through online sales, also by 2023. This tells us that Singapore’s online travel market is booming.

According to the Singapore Tourism Board, “technology can provide significant upsides to the travel agent business, by making processes cheaper, better and faster today, and by transforming one’s business for tomorrow.” This has proven true with the emergence of brands like ZEN Rooms, Favstay and Travelstop who have drastically changed the tourism space in Singapore, putting power in the hands of the consumer. But competition for market share in the online travel market is fierce, with a huge number of e-commerce and review sites in existence today. Online providers are tasked with delivering consistent and quality service to potential customers, via their websites, or they risk losing out entirely.

A significant challenge for Singapore’s online travel agencies is anticipating customer needs quickly and efficiently when online. Whether running a flash sale or capitalising on the summer holiday season, travel companies must have the right infrastructure in place to ensure a seamless customer experience. If a webpage takes too long to respond, customers will flip to another vendor, not proceed with a reservation, or turn to bricks and mortar stores for their bookings.

Our recent work with Skyscanner is testament to this. As an internet business with offices across Europe, Singapore and in Shenzen, Skyscanner has to offer a reliable and consistent service to its customers and partners. Put simply, it cannot do so without a stable and reliable internal network. Systems monitoring has a vital role to play in keeping the technology up and running – and in preventing downtime.

But when it comes to their websites, what exactly should online travel sites monitor? And how do they ultimately improve customer experience? Here are the first three general indicators that every website owner should monitor to guarantee a reliable and consistent service for both customers and partners.

1. Uptime

Uptime is, without doubt, the single most important performance indicator of a website. Why? Because if a website is down for more than a few minutes, the potential for sales declines. Moreover, the longer the downtime is and the more often it happens, the more it jeopardises the reputation of a business. Online travel agencies should therefore strive for “five nines”, that is 99.999% when it comes to uptime.

2. Time to first byte (TTFB)

Most internet users are impatient, in fact 40% will abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. A common metric for determining the responsiveness of a web server is TTFB, which is affected by the duration of 3 actions: sending a request to the server, processing and generating the response, and sending the response back to the client. It is critical that TTFB is fast, or online travel agents will lose out to their competition.

3. Broken links

The web is built on hyperlinks. Therefore, broken links frustrate website visitors, can damage an organisation’s reputation, and can affect sales conversions if they occur on a checkout page. Neither users nor Google like broken links, which is why they can also significantly impact website rankings. Online travel agents should regularly check their websites for broken links, doing regular housekeeping to ensure their site is fully functional and findable for customers.

For those looking to go the extra mile, addition monitoring of website visitors or components such as user journey will have significant impact on the customer.

1. Website visitors

Traffic is an important performance indicator for the success of an organisation’s web presence. Whilst a good user experience is key, without website visitors it’s wasted effort. Website visits provide administrators with the insights they need to predict usage, as well as to address potential site issues and upgrades.

2. User journey

For e-commerce sites, a well-considered ordering process is vital for the business. Online travel agents must ensure they understand and are monitoring the workflows of website users, to ensure customer can act as desired. This goes for everything on a website, from making a purchase to signing up to a newsletter. An error during a process can cost leads and therefore, potential customers.

With a website being the face of any ecommerce business, good performance is essential. By monitoring all these performance indicators, Singapore’s online travel agents will lay the foundations for a high-quality website that ultimately drive a better customer experience. 

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