Measuring chat success: how many conversations can you expect?

Here’s what we’ve learnt about the benchmarks for website chat performance
James Donald
August 17, 2020

Website chat is fast becoming the must-have tool for tourism businesses wanting to scale-up their customer service, without the expense or hassle of hiring more staff. But, what does success look like for website chat? How many conversations can you expect? What impact does chat have on that all-important metric of website conversion?

We’ve done some data analysis, and here’s what we’ve learnt about the benchmarks for website chat performance in the tourism sector...

Number of conversations

Analysis of our customer data shows that, on average, 1.5% of website visitors engage with chat, although this average changes during the year, and is typically higher in summer and lower in winter.  

This plot shows the distribution changes:

In terms of off-peak (winter) and peak (summer) chat averages, here is what the data tells us:

● July 2020 = 1.2%

● February 2020 = 1.65%

● Year average = 1.5% (2019 data to exclude COVID)

Higher chat engagement from those in planning or booking phase

We find people use chat to ask questions mostly when they’re in the planning and booking phase, and less so in the dream phase. So, in winter, websites see a higher proportion of dreamer visitors, which leads to a lower engagement rate.

The sorts of questions people ask during the dream phase include: “What’s popular?” or “What’s good for kids?”

While those in the planning or booking phase are more likely to ask about deals, availability of family packages, how to book, what’s available and check in time, among other things.

Trips that book out in advance get more questions, particularly relating to how to book and whether booking is required (yes!).

Activities that take last-minute bookings receive more chat

We thought we may see higher levels of chat engagement from international travellers because chat provides a convenient way to engage if English is your second language, and also the high cost of international phone calls is a potential barrier to engaging by phone.

However, we see a stronger correlation between travellers wanting to book last minute and outside of typical office hours.  

In fact, approximately 40% of chats are received outside of 9am to 5pm.Therefore, accommodation and activities taking less than half a day are booked very last minute and they experience higher engagement rates through chat.

When trips are sold out, people will often double-check availability through chat. The answer is “sorry all rooms and seats are made available online”, but this can be a source of increased engagement.

Complex or numerous product offerings increase chat engagement

When the product mix is large or complex, people ask for help through chat. Polynesian Spa, for example, has several different pool areas and spa services and uses chat on every page of their website as a simple way for customers to find what they need. (Read the Polynesian Spa case study for more details)

Poor website design increases chat usage

Poor website design and FAQs, make it harder for customers to find what they need, and they therefore resort to chat.

Many customers love the data Yonder provides because it provides invaluable insight into  missing website content, or FAQs that can be added. We describe the chats received through Yonder as the tip of the iceberg… they often represent what people are thinking, but not asking and are a likely source of visitors bouncing from the website never to be seen again.

Redwoods Treewalk improved their webpage content based on insight they derived from analysis of their chat data. Read the Redwoods Treewalk story

Impact on website conversion rate

Research shows that chatters are more likely to convert than those visitors who don’t chat, and our data shows that an average of 10% of chats click through from chat to the booking system.

The average conversion rate of websites with online booking systems is 1.5%. When you compare that to 1.5% of website visitors chatting (the average over all Yonder customers), then the impact of those conversations that turn into bookings is extremely significant.

Since people enquiring through chat are serious about your product/service, that means converting a few of these website visitors by answering questions immediately, 24-7 is a significant impact on your conversion rate.

How to increase engagement

People who engage with chat are more likely to convert, so use a pop-up website message on your website home page to greet visitors.

Use the pop-up message to promote key information - special offers, what the weather is like, whether you are open, offer answers to the most commonly asked questions, or simply a greeting that asks “How can I help?”.

Use buttons in the welcome message to encourage engagement - buttons that appeal to things people are thinking and feeling will be the most successful.

Consider offering chat as an option on all pages, including the booking pages; the more opportunities that visitors have to engage, the better.

Personalisation enables them to get what they need and remember you, so offer a “Help me choose” option.

Remember that the more visitors learn about you and your services, the further they will progress toward booking.

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