In a matter of days, Hit Search will publish the findings of a research project which looked at 27 online cruise companies online to analyse their conversion rate optimisation work -- or total lack thereof.
For a lot of travel companies, CRO is absolutely crucial to the success or failure of the business. Powerhouses like Royal Caribbean will always get bookings on the strength of their brand and reputation alone, but that doesn’t mean that they couldn’t be doing more to get bookings online
First things first - Royal Caribbean in Search
At a glance, the Miami based firm enjoys good visibility online, in paid and organic search, but as is always the case with conversion rate optimisation there is definite room for improvement.
Brand wise, everything is present and correct for Royal Caribbean. We’ve got organic links, paid links and a nice knowledge graph to provide us with more information (turns out Royal Caribbean is Norwegian).
But if we punch in a typical cruise term like “cruise holidays” or simply “cruise” something interesting happens: Royal Caribbean makes the front page, but it doesn’t lead visitors to the homepage of the site. Instead, it fires them over to http://www.royalcaribbean.co.uk/why-cruise-holidays/.
So why is this important? Well, if you compare the two pages you’ll notice an important difference:
If they directed consumers to the homepage, they would be greeted by a number of great calls to action and a handy widget to help them make a fast and easy booking. But on the “why cruise holidays” page all consumers will find is some eye catching pictures and a little info too, though they’ll have to do a lot of scrolling to get it.
This means they’re not making the most of their organic visibility. So why are Royal Caribbean pushing “why cruise holidays”?
In truth, they’re not. They just haven’t optimised their homepage for the word “cruise”. A quick glance at the title tag shows that they’re targeting “family holidays” and “cruises”. A further glance at the rest of the page shows that they don’t have any more keyword rich content in which to make a further argument to Google.
The “why cruise holidays” page, however, is teeming with keyword rich content and as a result, that’s the page the people are finding.
Royal Caribbean CRO - What is the company doing right?
Elsewhere, Royal Caribbean’s site is doing a pretty good job. There are plenty of sales messages and actionable content above the fold -- on the homepage and the category pages for deals and destinations. Navigation in general makes sense and, while the ticking clock graphic is only on the site to endorse the company’s January sale, it’s a really good conversion tool for creating urgency.
The basics are down. It’s the finer details that will make the difference for Royal Caribbean.
Room for improvement - What more could RCI do?
Our earlier point about the “why cruise holiday page” suggests that Royal Caribbean International could benefit from a more strongly defined keyword strategy. A number of the challenger brands in this space, including cruise.co.uk, cruisenation.com and cruise118.com, rely upon keyword targeting for their online presence.
Yes, Royal Caribbean has a great brand and a good rep, but their online game isn’t always driving visitors to the right areas of the site. By focussing on longer tail keyphrases too, they could do a better job of landing visitors on the most specific page for their needs. This will aid conversion too.
Another key CRO tactic is A/B testing. We’ve established that the Royal Caribbean site looks good, it has a decent call to action and has actionable conversion content in a visible area of the page; but with the help of some A/B tests, the company could trial even better variations on these page elements. They could trial a new page design, or simply tweak the colour or placement of key action buttons.
This could result in better use of their existing traffic. This is as important right now as ever before, since a look at search activity for last year shows what an important time of year this is for the brand, after the Christmas lull in activity.
Royal Caribbean is one of the big dogs in the cruise industry and this translates to positive activity in search and on site. But who’s to say that this particular dog couldn’t learn a new trick or two and become even stronger online?