Web Mystery Shoppers International Inc. Releases Hotel and Online Travel Agency Study

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Hotel and online travel agency sites have improved since 2003, but customer expectations are rising even faster.

Hotel and online travel agency sites have improved since 2003, but customer expectations are rising even faster. A recent study by Web Mystery Shoppers International Inc. of 23 hotel and travel agency web sites saw a significant drop in the number of shoppers who were willing to continue beyond the sites' home pages (from 93% in 2003 to 89%). There were also fewer respondents willing to recommend the sites they visited to friends (down from 4.32 out of 5.0 in 2003 to 4.10).

Nearly 600 US-based consumers were assigned to book a 3-day stay for themselves and their families. This was a follow-up to a similar study conducted in 2003, involving 1014 shoppers looking at the same sites.

"The site that ranked second in overall experience in 2003 is near the bottom of the list now," notes President Tema Frank. "It hasn’t changed all that much, but customer expectations have."

Many hotel sites still frustrate users by hiding the total costs of their reservation (including taxes) before starting the booking. "This puts people off wanting to book at hotel sites," noted Ms. Frank, "especially since most of the agency sites, like Expedia, do provide that information up-front."

Other findings:

  • The percentage of people who have visited such sites is continuing to increase (from 81% in 2003 to 83% today).
  • Most improved home pages (based on the percentage of visitors who were willing to continue beyond the home page):
  • Orbitz (up from 84% to 100%)
  • Cheaprooms.com (up from 81% to 95%)
  • Biggest drops in willingness to continue beyond the home page:
  • Crowne Plaza (from 100% to 80%), Hampton Inns (down from 94% to 77%)
  • OctopusTravel (down from 90% to 75%)
  • Many consumers are still uncomfortable with the Priceline and Hotwire approach of placing bids for the best price on hotel rooms, without advance guarantees of which hotel they will end up at.

Sites studied were: Best Western, Besthotels.com, Cheaprooms.com, Cheaptickets.com, Comfort Inns, Country Inns & Suites, Crowne Plaza, Days Inn, Expedia.com, Fairmont Hotels, Four Seasons, Hampton Inns, Hotels.com, Hotwire.com, Hyatt Hotels, Marriott, Motel 6, Octopustravel.com, Orbitz.com, Priceline.com, Sheraton, Super 8, Travelweb, Travelocity.

Web Mystery Shoppers International Inc. helps companies increase sales and lower selling costs. By using large numbers of trained, paid testers, who work from their own computers and provide detailed, page-by-page feedback, about their website experience, clients are given insight not only about the web site, but about differences in user perception based on variables like computer and browser systems and Internet experience.

For further information:

Tema Frank

President, Web Mystery Shoppers International Inc.

Toll-free: 1-866-211-7027

Tel: (780) 444-5645

Cell: (780) 945-7345

tema@webmysteryshoppers.com    

http://www.webmysteryshoppers.com

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