Travel Websites are Increasingly Moving into their Customers’ Social Spaces and Communicating with them Outside of Traditional Methods

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The latest eTravel Benchmark results are released today

The latest eTravel Benchmark 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 giving customers a much more constant level of exposure to the brand allowing for deeper engagement.

However sites are failing to capitalise on the full potential of social media. By not suggesting site visitors share the ‘product’ they have found, they miss the opportunity for it to be seen by potentially hundreds of people within their social group, which is likely to be much more extensive than just relying on word of mouth. Why is this important? Over half of respondents to a recent eDigitalResearch travel study said their choice of holiday destination is inspired by friends and family.

The eTravel Benchmark found that sites are beginning to open up communication channels with online users to help inform booking decisions. Many of the top performing sites now offer live help and chat facilities, as well as promoting links to established social media pages, offering advice and strengthening relationships with online users.

Derek Eccleston, Research Director at eDigitalResearch, explains, ‘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.’

Hotel agent, Booking.com topped the overall league table for the first time with 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.

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%. Competitors Butlins, Canvas Holidays and Haven also made it into the top 5 for telephone contact, with Keycamp topping the email customer service league, all helping to finally bring a consistent customer experience.

On average, hotel chain sites were the lowest performing sector, with many sites lacking fundamental website basics, such as FAQ’s and a reliable and responsive phone and email customer service. Budget travel brands also performed poorly across the customer journey.

Full results and presentation available here: https://ecustomeropinions.com/survey/survey.php?sid=718728388 or login to the benchmarking area of the eDigitalResearch website: http://www.edigitalresearch.com/benchmarking

For further information, contact Lisa Bonczyk on 01489 772920, or email: lisa(dot)b(at)edigitalresearch(dot)com

Notes to editors

Methodology:

  •     An eMysteryShopper survey was conducted to compare the customer journey of 51 UK travel websites. The fieldwork was carried out using the eMysteryShopper Panel of internet users during February through to March 2011. The benchmark measures included:

o    First Impressions (Homepage)
o    Initial research – navigation
o    Search
o    Search results
o    Booking process
o    Customer contact – Telephone
o    Customer contact - Email

About eMysteryShopper:

  •     eDigitalResearch has been undertaking ‘end to end’ eMysteryShopper surveys on the top UK Internet retail sites since Christmas 2000.
  •     With its in-depth research it can benchmark and plot the development of retail websites over the last ten years.
  •     As a result it has an unprecedented level of knowledge, expertise and research data covering the development of some of the top UK internet retail sites.
  •     eMysteryShopper (eMS) provides in-depth and structured study of website usability, functionality, supporting logistics and customer service through our unique panel of profiled UK Internet users. Working under strict Non Disclosure Agreements these profiled individuals are paid to complete ‘end to end’ surveys on selected websites.
  •     eDigitalResearch currently works with over 10,000 profiled UK eMysteryShoppers (surveyors) carrying out end to end usability studies on over 55 sites at any one time. Surveyors all complete strict assessment criteria and operate under stringent quality control and ongoing survey moderation.
  •     eDigitalResearch has the largest ‘norms’ database across the retail sector and is able to offer clients and the market a unique view of what ecommerce shoppers are looking for from an eRetail site.

About eDigitalResearch:

eDigitalResearch is a leading provider of digital market research, enabling customers to make critical business decisions with the benefit of comprehensive consumer insight and informed direction. eDigitalResearch possesses a unique combination of research expertise, marketing background, web technology and knowledge of the cross-channel consumer. As well as providing invaluable research data, the modules of our fully integrated research system - ratings, surveys, panels, communities and forums - can combine to provide holistic analytics and essential market-leading insight. This gives our clients the power, confidence and backup to make crucial decisions on key aspects of their business including product range, marketing, customer service, supply chain, even basic positioning. http://www.edigitalresearch.com

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Lisa Bonczyk