3 Best Travel Agent Website Designs - A Deeper Analysis
It’s no secret the travel industry is a crowded place. Agencies push advertising and promotions to their limits and use every advantage they can find to get a leg up. At the center of these strategies is the website, quietly working to convince travelers to take their next trip. As the hardest working tool in the promotional arsenal, every aspect of a real estate agent’s website needs to be optimized to influences the person on the other side of the screen.
To get a better understanding of how super successful travel agent websites do their job, we’re going to analyze three of the best travel agent website designs and dig into the elements and arrangements that make them successful. By breaking the web design down we should uncover patterns that provide inspiration and direction for us to create new (and even better) designs.
This review is not paid, and we aren’t affiliated with any of these sites. We’re just here to look at different types of sites find out what kind of design techniques are working for the big dogs of the travel agent industry.
At the top of the list is Priceline. This travel goliath rakes in billions of dollars each year and is ranked in the top 500 most visited websites in the U.S. With that kind of traffic it’s fair to say that each part of their website design has been thoroughly tested and optimized.
While Priceline’s design isn’t extravagant or even particularly artistic, it excels in making efficient use of real estate to display a lot of information and functionality.
Have a look at illustration below.
This is the first fold of Priceline’s website. They manage to cram in a significant amount of information without creating overwhelm. It’s relatively easy for the user to digest all of these various elements.
Looking from the top down they’ve used a simple, non-nested menu, a hero section with a slim but fully functional search bar, a brief benefits section and a focused call-to-action. It’s nothing flashy but it’s clean and conveys a lot of information without the user having to scroll.
In this one fold a user can search for accommodation, see that they have been granted a discount voucher, they’re welcomed to the site by a smiling Kaley Cuoco, they’ve been told the benefits of Priceline, and they’ve been called to take an action. Writing it all out sounds a little overwhelming, but it fits together nicely on the page.
If there was any critique to be made of this page it would be the first header above the search bar which doesn’t have great contrast with the background and is a little washed out. This is reflected in the accessibility score in Chrome’s native audit tool seen below.
Looking a little further down Priceline’s page, they’ve put together a nice little display grid that does a great job inferring a lot of personality with just the use of fonts and high quality images. I’m personally very drawn to unique grids so this part of their design appeals to me and was one of the reasons Priceline made the review list.
Altour offer a much different user experience than most travel sites and it makes sense when you look at the services they offer, including corporate retreats, luxury holidays and even private jet travel… how lavish!
These kind of exclusive services call for a different design style that isn’t focused around finding the best deal like a traditional travel agency. Their aim is to take the user on a more immersive journey to reflect the indulgent nature of their services.
One of the unique features of the Altour website is their lack of concern for screen real estate. This is a stark contrast to the other sites in this review. Instead, the top of their site is a full fold HTML5 video section that joins to a smooth horizontal scrolling showcase of their services.
While I’m not personally a fan of using full fold video backgrounds, there is a time and a place, and this builds on top of the design experience.
I always love seeing a website where the designer and developer have worked together to make something special. A horizontal slider on it’s own isn’t much, and they often scroll poorly and feel clunky. This one however is smooth and decked with beautiful, high quality images that do a great job of communicating while using minimal text.
I really like Altour’s design. It’s minimalistic, it’s sells their product and their branding is clear. It’s the kind of design that is hand-crafted and couldn’t be accomplished with website builders like Wix, LeadPages or SquareSpace. With that said, it’s worth pointing out that their accessibility and site performance is poor, but this is a website design review not a website performance review so we’ll let it slide.
Flight Centre is arguably the most well known travel agency website in Australia. According to the London Telegraph, Australians rank at number 9 for the most international trips per head. Whether this statistic is accurate is besides the point. Australians travel a lot, and Flight Centre plays a part in greasing those wheels.
The Flight Centre website is a smorgasbord of calls to action. The website is layered head to toe with incentives to travel. It almost feels like walking through a busy fruit market on a weekend.
Despite the busy nature of the site, they’ve still managed to bring in some personality through recognisable models, a clear and striking colour scheme and enough structure that it’s easy to consume everything on the screen.
This page is literally covered in calls to action. Flight Centre know that there’s a good chance their users aren’t going to make it past the first fold of their website since their crown jewel is the flight search tool. They’ve taken this on board and made it their mission to solve as many potential user problems as possible in the first fold.
The impressive part of deconstructing Flight Centre’s website is you can see the decisions that lead to the design. Weight is given to each of the components based on their importance to the business.
The flight search functionality sits in front of the rest of the design because it’s what most users are looking for. However, Flight Centre make their money from selling package deals, and they have the chance to use this real estate for advertising their latest and greatest offers. Down the bottom of the food chain are the specific questions, and avenues support less effective ways of converting visitors.
Flights Centre’s intentions are no less clear further down their website. They’ve adopted an attractive and clean approach to the “newspaper” layout of information; most important stuff up top, moderately important stuff in the middle and least important stuff down the bottom.
Using tidy typography and overlapping on-page elements allows information to be squeezed into as much little real estate as possible. The overlapping grid elements also come with the added benefit of slotting straight into a perfectly arranged mobile display.
While I wouldn’t go around telling my friends that the Flight Centre website is my main source of design inspiration, it does a really great job of packing everything in without looking like it’s about to leak out the side of the screen.
Of course, our review wouldn’t be complete without scrutinizing Flight Centre’s accessibility and performance. We can probably all agree that travel agencies care a lot about design composition and search engine optimization, and less about accessibility.
If you enjoyed our deconstruction of these websites and would like a similar audit of your current site done, reach out to us and we’ll write an article about your site and how it can be improved. If you run a travel agency and are due for a website overhaul, contact us for an obligation free quote today. We know what makes a perfect travel agency website and can help you create a design that brings in clients.