Case study for Ukraine International Airlines:

A 23.57% uplift in the conversion rate (CR) and a 28.3% uplift in average revenue per user (ARPU) as a result of adding the banner that addresses users’ objections due to COVID-19.

Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) is the largest Ukrainian flag carrier, with more than 1 million monthly website users before COVID-19 (according to SimilarWeb). UIA operates more than 1,000 international regular weekly flights to Europe, North America, Asia and Africa. It also offers multiple domestic flights across Ukraine.

 

Summary

The aviation industry has experienced an unprecedented drop in passenger transportation as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic outbreak. Users are less likely to purchase flight tickets during the pandemic due to travel bans and sudden flight cancellations.

Our task was to find a solution that would enable us to increase the conversion rate to ticket purchases during COVID-19. The goal was achieved by addressing key user’ objections in the process of booking a flight. The KPIs were the session-to-purchase conversion rate (CR) and the average revenue per user (ARPU) of the UIA website.

We conducted qualitative and quantitative research to find hypotheses with the highest growth potential. As a result of our research, we discovered that the key user objection to booking a flight ticket was the uncertainty that the flight would take place as scheduled and wouldn’t be cancelled as a result of newly imposed travel restrictions. To mitigate this objection, we added a banner to the ticket booking page informing users about a 125% money-back guarantee as a bonus that could be spent on the next flight in case of flight cancellations due to COVID-19.

As a result of our improvements, we managed to increase the conversion rate (CR) by 23.57% and delivered a 28.30% uplift in average revenue per user (ARPU).

 

Research

Our extensive funnel performance analysis indicated that there were a number of stages in the booking flow with significant traffic drop offs. We decided to focus on the flight search result page as the page that provided the biggest uplift opportunity.
Then we wanted to learn why users abandoned the ticket booking flow without completing a purchase. We ran a survey on the ticket booking page to learn more about what prevented users from buying tickets.

41% of our online poll respondents claimed they were less likely to purchase flight tickets due to the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus outbreak. Specifically, 37% out of those 41% COVID-releted respondents (15,2%) mentioned a fear of losing money if the flight is cancelled or lack of the refund policy clarity as a main barrier to purchase.

We had to find a solution that would address users’ objections and convince them to complete their booking.

 

Solution

Ukraine International Airlines had a special refund policy of providing customers with store credit worth 125% of their ticket price for use on future flights, if a flight was cancelled due to COVID-19. However, this information was not clearly visible on the website. So the question was whether more vividly emphasizing the refund policy on the website would result in additional profit.

Our poll data indicated that 41% of users were hesitant to purchase flight tickets due to COVID-19 uncertainty and 37% of those users specifically mentioned a fear of losing money or the lack of a clear refund policy.

Our solution was to overcome these two main objections by adding an informational banner to the ticket booking page that communicated the following message:

“UIA will credit the full ticket price +25% in case the flight is canceled due to COVID-19.
Credit will be in the form of a promocode, which may be used to pay for a trip within 2 years.”

To save space, the banner was folded on mobile and could be unfolded by clicking on it.

To validate our hypothesis, we conducted an A/B test on the ticket search result page on mobile, where the traffic was evenly distributed between the control version of the page and our alternative version.

We targeted all users coming to the ticket booking page regardless of their geolocation. Needed sample size for 91% statistical power was achieved in 18 days of A/B tests

To ensure flawless functionality and the alternative variation rendering, we set up video session recording through Hotjar, event tracking of banner interactions (clicks, banner expanding and collapsing). This way, we could measure user engagement with the banner and understand if it was useful information at this stage.

See the control and alternative ticket booking pages below:

Control variation

Alternative variation

Result

As we expected, providing more relevant information to users in times of uncertainty helped manage their objections and influenced their buying decisions.

Based on the A/B test data, we managed to achieve a conversion rate (CR) uplift of 23.57% and an average order value (AOV) uplift of 4.22%. This result generated an average revenue per user (ARPU) uplift of 28.30%.

The alternative variation showed that the conversion rate (CR) increased by 18.30% for all fares except Economy Premium. As a result of the experiment, we achieved a 31.06% uplift in fare revenue and a 10.79% average order value increase.

The alternative variation also showed a revenue per user increase for flight insurance purchases of 57% and seat selection purchases by 8%. The average order value (AOV) showed a 20% and 15% uplift respectively.

The number of users who reached the second stage of the flight ticket booking flow (passenger contact details page) increased by 5% compared to the control variation (original website page).

The total number of users who reached the third sales funnel stage (seat selection page) increased by 15%. While 17% more users reached the fourth sales funnel stage (payment page).

The results of the tests achieved a 98% statistical significance with statistical power equaling to 92%.

Key takeaways

 

1. Fear of cancellation and return policy ambiguity is crippling in the ticket booking industry.

 

2. Identifying the dominant user concerns at every stage of the funnel and then addressing each of them independently will positively impact user progression from one stage to the next, and have an overall positive effect on macro conversion.

 

3. To strengthen A/B test result validity, measure the effect of the improvement not only on macro conversion but also on the performance of the funnel and user engagement.

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