Published on Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Websites put to the test in latest eTravel Benchmark

Hotel agent topped the overall league table for the first time in the latest eTravel Benchmark.

The Benchmark compared the customer journey of 51 UK travel websites, using a panel of internet users during February through to March 2011.

The hotel website has a consistently strong performance across the entire online customer journey and an overall score of 83.4%.

“The site offers users a large amount of relevant results from its search function, providing all necessary information required to make a purchase decision,” said eTravel.

Overall, holiday camps and self-catering were the top performing sector, providing industry best practice for customer service.

European holiday site Center Parcs topped the telephone customer service table with a score of 92.3%.

Butlins, Canvas Holidays and Haven also made it into the top five for telephone contact, with Keycamp topping the email customer service league.

On average, hotel chain sites were the lowest performing sector, with many sites lacking fundamental basics like FAQs and a reliable and responsive phone and email customer service.

Budget travel brands also performed poorly across the customer journey.

According to eTravel, the results show that many more travel websites are encouraging customers to engage with them via social media and developing apps for use on the move.

But it said sites are failing to capitalise on the full potential of social media by not suggesting site visitors share the ‘product’ they have found.

Derek Eccleston, research director at eDigitalResearch, said: ‘It is important that travel sites take the steps to communicate with online users through various platforms, especially social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Trip Advisor where consumers are already conversing with one another.

“Holidays are often the biggest, single expense of the year and our research demonstrates that consumer satisfaction is steadily increasing as travel sites begin to offer various contact methods and provide the service and reassurance that people now expect.”

By Bev Fearis

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The recent insolvency of Low Cost Travel Group, one of the large players in the travel industry had a big impact on the travelers, hotels and all related players from both wholesale & retail arms. There were about 27,000 people on a holiday who had booked through the company comprised of a €200 million wholesale arm and €500 million OTA / retail arm.