The disruptive events set off by COVID-19 radically changed the expectations, desires and behaviors of travelers and tourists—and all need to be catered for by the customer experience in Travel and Hospitality (T&H).

Today’s tech-savvy traveler is a new, still-evolving and unknown breed, and T&H companies need all the insights they can get into what makes these ‘unknown travelers’ tick. And spend.

That’s why digital experience analytics (DXA) can be an absolute game-changer.

Tracking every aspect of site user behavior—including what goes on between the clicks—DXA offers an unparalleled source of forensic, contextual insights into how the new, ‘unknown’ traveler behaves and feels when using your website or app.

In this article, we’ll show you the power of DXA by sharing five DXA-derived insights into T&H site users’ behavior in 2022 that should help you build more effective digital customer experiences in 2023.

And there’s plenty more insights where these come from…

The 2023 Travel and Hospitality Digital Experience Benchmark report

Based on analysis of 20.6 billion page views and 3.8 billion sessions taking place across 106 sites, the 2023 Travel and Hospitality Digital Experience Benchmark report gives a 12-month comprehensive overview of the digital customer experience last year in four sectors:

  • Car and Transportation
  • Entertainment and Restaurants 
  • Hotels and Resorts
  • Travel Agencies and Services 

The report includes all the engagement metrics T&H companies should be tracking this year, plus strategic guidance on how to move those metrics in the right direction.

See how your digital experience stacks up.

Download the 2023 Travel and Hospitality Digital Experience Benchmark Report for the metrics that really matter.

Get my free copy


Let’s take a quick, high-level (and high-value) look at the findings inside.

5 insights around the customer experience in Travel and Hospitality from the benchmark report

1. Traffic was up—but conversion rates dropped

2022 was widely touted to be the year of “revenge” travel, when consumers would travel more to make up for lost time in the pandemic.

But while overall traffic to travel and hospitality sites shot up by +77.18% year-over-year, conversion rates fell -1.4% overall.

Customer experience in Travel and Hospitality chart 1: Conversion rate by sector, year-over-year

Conversions were down in all sectors apart from Hotels and Resorts, where they held steady on mobile and increased +0.1% on desktop. This was possibly due to rising prices on homestay platforms like Airbnb.

Doubtless 2022’s tough economic climate impacted consumers’ disposable income, a trend that unfortunately looks set to continue in 2023 and beyond.

We’re living through tough times, and travel and hospitality companies need all the insights they can get to secure conversions when conversion rates are dropping across the industry.

Above all, they need to understand what’s going wrong (and right) inside the customer journey. Which leads us to consumption and frustration…

2. Session consumption dropped and bounce rates rose

One factor that may underlie the drop in conversion rates may be a drop in site user engagement on websites.

Metrics measuring session consumption (including session depth, time spent per session and scroll rate) all decreased last year.

Customer experience in Travel and Hospitality chart 2 and 3: Session consumption by metrics and device and scroll rate, year-over-year

This lines up with something we observed across other industries when putting together our cross-industry 2023 Digital Experience Benchmark report—a growing ‘consumption crisis’ that accompanies the emergence of ‘grazing’ behavior.

Grazing describes online behavior whereby consumers visit sites more frequently, but also more shallowly, viewing less pages and scrolling less far down the page.

In this respect at least, the ‘unknown traveler’ may well resemble consumers in other sectors—and like them, needs to be engaged as quickly as possible.

The need to engage fast is further underlined by the rise in bounce rates across all travel and hospitality sectors last year.

Customer experience in Travel and Hospitality chart 4: Bounce rate by sector, year-over-year

3. Over a third of sessions were marred by frustration

Another conversion-killer is frustration, which flares up when some sort of obstacle is thrown across the site visitors’ path, be that a technical bug or sub-par site design.

The ‘unknown traveler’, like all consumers, entertains increasingly high expectations around digital experiences, expecting and demanding smooth, seamless multi-channel experiences that make things easy for them.

Unfortunately, many ‘unknown travelers’ found themselves frustrated when visiting travel and hospitality sites last year, with frustration factors impacting 41.4% of all sessions.

Customer experience in Travel and Hospitality chart 5: Share of visits with frustration, by sector

Interestingly, frustration was notably lower in Entertainment and Restaurant when compared to the three other travel and hospitality sectors—in which frustration was present in around 44% of sessions.

This perhaps suggests that the other sectors—which have historically been driven by face-to-face interactions—might be struggling to provide great experiences due to clunky legacy websites.

4. Fast sites secured more engagement and attention

With more and more site users able to access broadband WiFi and 5g networks, fast load times are now expected as a bare minimum component of an experience—and as sites get faster every millisecond counts.

The leading frustration factor identified in our research was slow page loads. These impacted 21.1% (over one in five) of travel and hospitality sessions.

And the impact they made was considerable. Sites that took over one second to load had a 7.4% higher bounce rate than those that loaded in sub-second times.

Customer experience in Travel and Hospitality chart 6: Bounce rate and page views by load time group

What’s more, sessions on sites that took over a second to load were almost a whole page less (0.81) deep.

Slow sites fall behind fast. So make sure you’re using a site speed analysis tool if you’re not already.

5. Mobile and unpaid traffic dominated, but desktop and paid traffic converted best

When considering how to boost conversions, it’s important to understand where your site visitors are coming from, and what device/s they’re using.

In 2022, 64.4% of traffic to travel and hospitality sites was mobile traffic. (In Entertainment & Restaurant, an amazing 73% of traffic was mobile-based.) Traffic was also overwhelmingly organic, with three in four visits originating from unpaid sources.

However, despite the dominance of unpaid and mobile traffic, paid traffic and desktop traffic still matter to travel and hospitality businesses. Big time.

Firstly, paid traffic is important for acquiring new customers. New visitors made up 69.7% of paid traffic in 2022.

Secondly, it drives conversions. In all but one T&H sector, paid traffic drove more conversions. The exception was Travel Agencies and Services, which can be explained by customers typically being loyal to agencies and booking repeatedly with them.

Customer experience in Travel and Hospitality chart 7: Conversion rate of paid vs. unpaid traffic

As for desktop traffic, while many consumers enjoy browsing on their mobile devices, when it comes to making big ticket purchases, they’re likely to want a bigger screen to be able to see exactly what they’re doing and an actual keyboard to rapidly and accurately input information.

The stats bear this out: 4.1% of desktop traffic converted last year, compared to mobile’s 2.4%—and desktop traffic drove 68% of revenue overall.

For the full run down on traffic trends in T&H last year (including traffic share by channel and source) and for a host of insights into how to turn that traffic into business growth gold, check out the 2023 Travel & Hospitality Digital Experience Benchmark report.

See how your digital experience stacks up.

Download the 2023 Travel and Hospitality Digital Experience Benchmark Report for the metrics that really matter.

Get my free copy


The customer experience in Travel & Hospitality is going places with Contentsquare

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to access the kind of valuable insights found in our Benchmark report on a 24/7/365 basis? With Contentsquare Digital Analytics Cloud, you can.

  • Get rich, contextual insights into how your site and/or app visitors are behaving and feeling with features like Zone-Based HeatmapsCustomer Journey Analysis and Session Replay.
  • Leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to prioritize actions based on their impact to key business metrics with CS Insights.
  • Track down and tackle friction in your journeys with CS Find & Fix, which brings client-side technical errors and UX obstacles to your immediate attention—and monitors your all-important site speed.
  • Compare your digital experience metrics to your industry peers in real-time so you can meet and beat the benchmark with our new platform feature: Benchmarks.

With Contentsquare, travel and hospitality companies can achieve the holistic understanding of their customers they need to drive conversions, loyalty and growth.

So take a demo—and start getting to know your ‘unknown travelers’ better.

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