Made for Spain & Portugal (MfS&P) is one of the most reputable Spanish travel agencies of its sector. But don’t worry if you haven’t heard of it, their speciality is luxury tailor-made travel.
The agency’s target market is foreigners (mainly North Americans) with a high purchasing power, for whom they plan exclusive tours around the Iberian Peninsula. Clients enjoy the geography, art or gastronomy of Spain and Portugal, and can also personalise their trip with preferences or specific requests. The aim is to produce a memorable and very particular experience that the customer will remember for life.
A (seemingly) paradoxical request: redesign to reduce leads
We started working with MfS&P in 2015. In the initial meetings, they told us about a significant problem: their website was capturing too many leads. The MfS&P agents had to invest an excessive amount of resources into filtering and analysis of contacts, follow ups and sending proposals etc, to eventually find out that the lead to client conversion rate was in fact very low.
Most leads found the price of the service unreachable for them. However, they had been interested in a possible trip and had left their personal details on a form. They probably wouldn’t have taken that step if, from the moment they entered the MfS&P website, they had been aware that the price was beyond their means. If they did, it was because the MfS&P website did not properly convey the premium level of services it offered.
Therefore, the main challenge of our work with MfS&P would be to redesign the agency’s website, so that the website itself would serve as a selective filter for the clients. From the moment a user arrived at the site, the sensations they received should be enough to decide whether or not they could afford to book a trip. Similar to when someone walks down the street and sees a store window or the entrance to a restaurant, and instantly process as to whether or not they would be able to cross the threshold.
Why not simply display the hiring rates? Wouldn’t that be a much simpler and more direct measure? Maybe, but it would also be less elegant. The idea was to create an environment that was self-explanatory enough to portray what kind customers the service was geared towards, without showing prices.
When SEO is not a determining factor in the digital presence
Unlike the vast majority of businesses that compete on the Internet, MfS&P does not seek to attract customers online. Their clients come mainly by word of mouth, or through promotions at fairs, specialised events and paper publications. Its online presence is more related to brand positioning than to sales, with the desire to transmit the image of a solid, premium and trusted brand in the digital space.
For that reason, SEO did not play a decisive role in the redesign of the website. Generally, SEO is a factor that must be taken into account in any web redefinition project, and that is present throughout the whole process: from code semantics to content writing. In the case of MfS&P, achieving a prominent position among the first results of Google was not a critical objective.
When we started working with MfS&P, the company was highly recognised in the offline environments where it usually contacted its target audience. However, its digital image did not correspond to a fresh, modern and attractive brand. We had to rethink the look and feel of the website in order to transmit a more contemporary image, but without abandoning the exclusivity or elegance associated with a luxury product.
How do you turn a luxury experience into a web design?
We asked ourselves: What does a trip consist of? It’s not just about getting to know a place. A trip consists of an amalgamation of unique, special moments, in which we abandon our routines to soak up new perspectives. Enriching and memorable moments. Great experiences. But how do you bring these concepts to a digital product?
From the outset, it was clear that our job was to convey the concept of a luxury experience to the visitors of the MfS&P website. With regards to the visual aspect, we used the original design as a starting point to remodel the logo, simplify colors, eliminate superfluous elements and carefully select each image. These changes were also applied to offline materials (brand communications, brochures, catalogs, print advertising, etc).
From the UX point of view, we designed a seamless experience, taking care of every navigation element (interactions, loading effects, carousels, testimonials) to transmit and support the feeling of a premium product. The structure of the website had to be similar to a travel eCommerce (although without showing prices or products), but the effect had to remind users of a luxury travel magazine.
“Less is more”: our design mantra
With the idea of simplifying and facilitating the navigation of the MfS&P website, we created a functional and logical content architecture, which minimised the options available while still fulfilling its informative function. The main menu was reduced to four essential sections: Spain, Portugal, US, Contact.
Most of the pages of the website work as independent landing pages: users reach them without going through the front page. Therefore, we had to think of how to retain and redirect them towards new content according to their interests, and how to create natural options to reach the home page from any landing page and continue browsing.
We were aware of the importance of taking a structural approach at all times, as it would facilitate presentation and access to all content. We designed a content tree with little width but a lot of depth, with interactions and links that allow simple and natural access to all information, without saturating the user with too many options.
Visitors to MfS&P have two exploratory paths: where and how. This means that, when they start planning a trip, they can either choose the destination or the type of trip. A third link leads to a small sample of suggested itineraries, which gives users an idea of the available possibilities of customization.
All of these efforts should leave visitors with the feeling that they are not using a travel e-commerce, or at least, not a conventional one. Without having read anything about the price, they would already know if they could afford the service. Without knowing specific itineraries or destinations, they could have already begun to savour their own customised travel experience.
And yes, we achieved the initial purpose. After the redesign, the number of leads was significantly reduced. However, the quality increased, and so did the conversion rate.