Three things travel businesses should make sure they are doing todayNewsBy Viewpoints | April 14, 2011Share This article was originally published on NB: This is a guest article by Owen Garrett, infrastructure specialist at Zeus Technology.Recent figures from IMRG demonstrated that the online travel industry has had a flying start to 2011, with a 31% rise in consumer spend compared to the beginning of 2010.What’s more, the average basket value of holidays booked in the UK, for example, was found to be £886, the highest figure ever recorded.Travel businesses will be keen to make the most of this rise in online spend, but will only be best placed to do so if they can offer a fully optimised web experience for their customers.Unfortunately, poorly performing sites are more often than not an unattractive place to shop. Lack of online availability and slow page load times can frustrate consumers and result in them taking their money to another site, while also leaving them with a negative perception of the brand.Below are some of the major issues to be aware of, together with top tips to ensure that online platforms are fast and readily available.1. Regularly updated contentOne of the major drivers for repeat visitors to online travel sites is the allure of new and engaging content. A travel site that fails to excite customers, encouraging them to come back with new content will struggle to compete.Those that deliver new content on a regular basis such as daily promotions do particularly well, but only if their site can cope with the volume of visitors this can bring.As a result, companies need to ensure that automation and web traffic management solutions are in sync so that when content is updated, the website can cope with high levels of visitors responding to it.For example, in our experience, travel sites that include blogs tend to attract more visitors.2. Communication between IT and marketingWith many travel businesses constantly reassessing their online promotions to stay competitive, it’s crucial that marketing and IT teams stay up-to-date on each other’s activities.It’s great if promotions are set to make an impact on business performance, but only if the company’s website can handle the large volume of visitors they attract.The IT team needs to be kept aware of any marketing promotions upcoming that will cause spikes in web traffic, while the marketing team needs to avoid planning campaigns at times when the IT team is planning maintenance work.This requires regular meetings between the two teams to protect revenue streams and keep customers coming back, as unexpected web performance issues can have a massive impact on customer loyalty and bottom line sales.This becomes especially relevant during peak times such as over Easter or just after Christmas, when the promotion season is in full swing and consumers are most likely to book trips.3. Fast page load timesWeb pages can load slowly for a number of reasons, having a massive impact on customer loyalty and bottom line sales. It could be a slow network connection, peaks in traffic or the complexity of delivering rich multi-media web services that can reduce speeds.But with high speed links more prevalent across the UK, slow connection speeds are gradually becoming an issue of the past. Customers now expect instant online access to the travel services they are looking for, so businesses need to help optimise speeds by prioritizing delivery over excessively media rich content to ensure page load times aren’t unnecessarily slowed.IMRG’s recent results are clearly testament to the fact there is a greater demand than ever before for online services from the travel industry.While a well performing site might not always get the praise it is due, a brand offering a poor web experience will quickly be reported by a host of frustrated users having trouble accessing the services they require.By taking simple steps, travel companies can proactively avoid web performance problems to protect their customer loyalty and ensure return on digital investment is not compromised.NB: This is a guest article by Owen Garrett, infrastructure specialist at Zeus Technology.