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eTravel Benchmark results

Online usability with travel sites is rising despite continued poor customer service

The latest eTravel Benchmark results show that online satisfaction with travel websites is steadily beginning to improve. However, despite a strong performance online, overall results are still suffering with poor customer service and after sales care.

The study from eDigitalResearch shows that overall online satisfaction with travel websites is slowly rising compared with the last wave, with the overall top score now standing at 83%. Yet, 48 out of the 51 sites surveyed are still providing telephone and email customer contact that requires urgent attention.

Lloyd Viney, Associate Director at eDigitalResearch explains that, “What sets apart sites that consistently perform well in our study time after time are those that not only provide consumers with a fantastic, user-friendly website, but reinforce this with excellent customer services.

For most people, holidays are often the biggest expense each year, and our feedback shows that consumers expect a certain standard across the entire end to end customer journey, including after sales contact. It is important that travel companies invest in providing helpful customer services, and not just a great website and online experience.”

Hotel agent, topped the league tables for the first time with a good performance across all areas benchmarked, providing an exceptional example of industry best practice with a logical search process and responsive customer services. Overall, hotel agents were the highest performing sector, with rival coming a very close second but let down by the sites booking process and navigation.

Leading UK airlines Virgin Atlantic and British Airways both cemented their positions in the top tier of the table with an increase in satisfaction across all areas of the study. However, the airline sector saw their overall results dragged down by budget carriers, with Ryanair, EasyJet and BMI Baby all failing to provide a strong brand message and adequate email and telephone contact.

Expedia have made the most dramatic improvement since the last set of results, jumping an impressive 29 places and into the top 5 after a 17% satisfaction increase with their email customer service. Princess Cruises also made a similar improvement, moving 24 places up also largely due to their email contact, cementing the vital role these touch points play.

The holiday camps and self catering sector entered the study for the first time, providing competition for other top websites. Center Parcs, Hoseasons and Butlin’s all scored particularly well finishing in the top half of the table due to informative customer services. However, given the recent popularity with ‘stay at home’ vacations, UK based companies still have some way to go to suitably rival their international counterparts online.