Travel companies are being urged to improve telephone and email contact on their websites to stay ahead of their competitors.
According to the latest eTravel Benchmark results from eDigitalResearch, poor levels of telephone and email contact often drag down overall customer experience.
The study rates 52 travel websites on a number of criteria. For the first time, the study measured the effectiveness of live help and support, as well as traditional customer contact.
It found sites which that made some of the biggest improvements in the study often did so because of their swift and effective online support.
"As a relatively new feature not yet adopted by most brands, the addition of Live Help channel, when delivered well, can significantly improve the user's experience," said a spokesman.
For telephone customer service, Pontins came top with a score of 90.7%, whilst Jet2 was bottom with 61.6%.
When it came to online customer support, Best Western performed best with a score of 82.8%, because of its market leading email service, whilst Travel Republic came bottom because it doesn't offer any online support or email customer contact.
The report also highlighted the need for travel websites to develop apps alongside their online offering.
Head of research Derek Eccleston said: "Previous eDigitalResearch results have shown that app users are often more engaged with brands, rather than just online or mobile site customers.
"Our latest results would suggest that this is particularly true in the travel industry and therefore it is vital that brands develop their mobile channels in line with their online offering and provide mobile customers with the ability to do everything they can do on a desktop site, like booking a holiday or checking in online, on a smartphone."
Center Parcs topped the overall league table for the first time with a score of 84.5%, with Expedia, Keycamp, Cottages4you, and Thomas Cook all completing the top five.
Thomas Cook made the biggest improvement in the benchmark, moving up 37 places since the last study in March 2012.
According to eDigitalResearch, respondents particularly liked Thomas Cook's online live help section, commenting on how helpful and responsive representatives were.
At the bottom of the league were Celebrity Cruises with a score of 69.8%, Holiday Inn and Emirates, both with 68.1%, Ryanair with 67.5% and Jet2 with 65.1%.
The survey looked at 52 UK travel websites and apps across several sectors including airlines, holidays and self catering, hotel chains and online travel agents during May and June 2012.
The criteria were: First Impressions (Homepage), Initial Research, Search, Search Results, Booking Process and Customer Support.
For a copy of the eTravel Benchmark results, including the full league tables and analysis, click here
Friday, July 20, 2012