Transform Your eCommerce Site for the Busiest Travel Year Yet

Travel is coming back with a vengeance—after years of missed holidays, consumers are changing their priorities and seeking adventures in uncharted territories. McKinsey predicts 2024 will see numbers that surpass pre-pandemic levels of travel.
As shopping remains a priority before and during these trips, brands must recalibrate their strategies accordingly. Eager to seize the moment? Here’s how your brand can revamp your eCommerce site so shoppers can achieve their picture-perfect getaways.

Travel and fashion have always intersected. For many shoppers, these unlock an array of picturesque possibilities, a life filled with adventures and romance. They might have a certain idea of what to wear should they post pictures for their family and friends on social media, as if they’re donning their Emily in Paris or The White Lotus-inspired outfits. It can also be the case that they want to prolong the thrill of a trip by showing off garments and textiles from their holiday destination. 

With the aftermath of the pandemic, the desire to live these fantasies has never been stronger. As Business of Fashion and McKinsey found in their State of Fashion 2024 Consumer Survey, a resounding 80% of global respondents anticipate indulging in apparel, footwear, and accessories purchases during their forthcoming travels, with 28% expressing intentions to amplify their spending compared to prior excursions. Kering and LVMH both had a staggering 47% and 53% percent spike respectively, observed in the first half of 2023. As travelers seek to immerse themselves fully in the magic of each destination, fashion emerges as a powerful medium through which they can capture and relive the essence of their journeys.

Mapping Out the Travel Calendar

Fashion and travel often intersect, especially during dedicated seasons like “resort” or “holiday,” which could mean anything, be it winter getaways or time spent lounging by the sea. While these can happen any time of the year, some days are busier than others. As consumers increasingly prioritize shopping for fashion while traveling, however, the demand for vacation products remains strong year-round.
According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the busiest times of the year for travel take place during spring break, Thanksgiving, and the Holiday season. The three busiest days are typically Tuesday and Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving, and then the Sunday immediately after the holiday. Meanwhile, travel for Christmas and New Year’s are more spread out. Last year, the TSA already logged seven of the busiest travel days in its entire history. This year, the TSA found that the volume is 6% more than during the same period in 2023.

Understanding Consumers Who Travel

Roughly one-third of Americans embark on two to three vacations annually. Conversely, slightly over a quarter abstained from non-business-related travel in the past year, while approximately one-fifth embarked on a single trip. Vacations exceeding six in number, however, were less common. There are common characteristics among them, however, and some contributing factors to the rise of travel.

Among these is the rise of remote work that has fueled a trend towards quick weekend getaways and shorter trips, further driving the demand for vacation-ready attire and shaping a continuous market for travel-inspired fashion. Affluent consumers, particularly those under the age of 35, are seeking longer and more luxurious vacations, investing more in holidays and vacations compared to the average consumer. More than half are making way for travel and reconsidering other personal expenses, and about 47% of travelers are prioritizing experiences. Additionally, blending business with leisure has become increasingly common especially for those aged 18-34, taking more business trips and extending them into vacations. These travelers are inclined towards seeking enriching experiences beyond the ordinary, such as indulging in health and wellness retreats or investing in vacation homes.

Tips to Ensure Your Customers Are Well-Prepared for Travel

Here are some innovative practices that can help captivate and convert shoppers planning for their next adventure:

Power Up The Search Engine

To enhance product discovery, it’s essential to optimize your search engine. By implementing features such as visual search, you allow customers to explore products using images of the swimwear or holiday accessories, making the search process more intuitive and visually engaging. You can also integrate text suggestions as users type their queries to speed up the search process. Similarly, offering product previews as shoppers type allows them to see available products in real-time so they are empowered to make informed decisions quickly. 

Create Collections Based on Type of Travel

Grouping products into collections tailored to different types of travel, be it beach vacations, city breaks, outdoor adventures, or business trips, makes it easier for shoppers to find what they’re after. Besides photos, the category description can evoke images of an exciting adventure. You can jumpstart the customer’s hunt with bestsellers for each category that could link them to other items that might catch their attention. This simplifies the shopping journey and inspires customers with ideas tailored to their travel plans.

Segment Navigation for Different Traveler Types

You can also tailor your website’s navigation to cater to various traveler types, like luxury or budget travelers. These can be complete with menu options based on the specific preferences and needs of each segment that allow easy access to relevant products and content. You can further refine navigation within each segment to address specific requirements per product and provide personalized recommendations for a smoother shopping experience.

Develop Helpful Content and Guides

One handy but effective tip is to develop helpful content and guides for your customers. By offering valuable insights and practical advice, you can assist travelers in preparing for their journeys. Make your brand the authority in the subject by providing packing tips and seasonal wardrobe suggestions. Moreover, you can offer advice on how to travel comfortably, such as recommending suitable materials for various climates, selecting the right sunscreen, and highlighting essential beachwear and gadgets. 

Highlight Vacation Items

Inspire customers to finally take that holiday by putting the spotlight on vacation items. This can be done through dedicated landing pages or special filters to streamline the shopping experience. If you have a physical store, showcasing vacation displays can entice customers to explore related products online. Doing so can increase basket size as shoppers are encouraged to add complementary items. Further, presenting models wearing clothing in picturesque travel destinations or engaging in leisurely activities helps customers visualize wearing the products during their own vacations, making the shopping experience more immersive and inspiring.

Inspire Shoppers to Travel through Email

You don’t have to wait for shoppers to find or remember your site to make them think about their trips. Instead, reach out through email campaigns with the allure of travel and the excitement of finding new products. By crafting compelling content, brands can captivate shoppers and drive engagement. Including available products that appeal to their tastes in the email allows customers to envision their perfect holiday and make purchase decisions easier without worrying about stockouts. Guides and related travel content can also be added as valuable resources. 

Optimize Mobile Experience

Don’t miss out on customers who are more likely to be on their phones while on-the-go! Simplify navigation with a sleek menu structure and user-friendly design to ensure seamless browsing. You can also tailor content and visuals to meet the preferences of mobile users, delivering crisp images and concise product descriptions tailored for smaller screens. With a mobile-first approach, you’ll effortlessly cater to jet-setting customers finding inspiration all over.

Implement Virtual Try-On Features

Integrating virtual try-on features transforms the shopping experience, enabling customers to immerse themselves in their vacation wardrobe choices. By visualizing outfits in real-time, this interactive tool bolsters confidence and minimizes return rates. Customers can effortlessly manipulate virtual garments, allowing for informed decisions and ensuring satisfaction with their selections. With virtual try-on capabilities, you not only enhance the shopping journey but also cultivate trust and loyalty among your audience.

Leverage Social Media and User-Generated Content

Today’s shoppers are drawn to authentic experiences and genuine testimonials, making UGC and social media powerful tools to showcase real stories and inspire trust in your brand. Taking that vacation won’t feel so far-fetched if shoppers can see fellow shoppers taking the trip themselves, be it through images, short-form videos, and 24-hour stories. Social media largely informs the choice of travel destination, with 75% of travelers saying that they are inspired by what they see on these platforms. By featuring customer reviews and travel photos on your platforms, you not only engage potential travelers but also enhance your brand’s credibility.

Entice with Curated Experiences

Pop-ups are nothing new, but you can keep it fresh and interesting by partnering with related industries and offering new, value-adding experiences. Travelers seek them out—40% are inclined to allocate a significant portion of their travel budget to meticulously curated moments or experiences. By forming partnerships with industries like travel adventures, hotels, spas, and restaurants, brands and retailers can seamlessly integrate these curated experiences, offering consumers immersive encounters that transcend traditional retail settings. These collaborative endeavors engage customers on a deeper level as well as elevate brand experiences that can foster lasting connections and loyalty.

Inspire Your Shoppers to Take That Holiday

As the travel industry gears up for its busiest year yet, eCommerce sites must adapt to meet the evolving needs of consumers. By implementing innovative strategies tailored to the travel landscape, brands can position themselves as essential companions on the journey. From optimizing search to leveraging social media, each step taken promises to inspire wanderlust with every click.