Relative newcomer Airbnb is ahead of traditional travel providers such as Virgin Atlantic and Thomas Cook in providing a first class digital user experience, according to independent research by user experience agency Webcredible.
The research followed a preliminary survey of over 500 British travel buyers, which found that 85% prefer to book their holidays online. Of these, 60% have eventually given up on their purchase and 79% have switched to a different travel provider due to challenges in the user journey.
In response, Webcredible conducted a review comparing how different types of travel providers deliver customer experience for users researching and booking holiday travel and accommodation online.
In its Travel Industry User Experience report, Webcredible mapped the online user journey and evaluated the usability of top travel providers’ websites and mobile applications. From a user’s perspective the travel providers were benchmarked against eight heuristics. The eight user experience heuristics were divided into a three step user journey, from discovery and inspiration to making a decision and then booking.
Under ‘Discovery and Inspiration,’ aspects covering researching for travel, providing review and recommendations as well as integration with social media channels were assessed. ‘Decision Making’ reviewed features such as providing accurate and timely travel information and product detail, e-mail marketing and the use of consistent branding across all channels and devices. And finally, ‘Booking’ assessed the site usability and the online booking process.
Against each heuristic, the travel providers were assigned a score and ranked in a travel user experience index.
Airbnb ranked first overall due to their exceptional website usability, simple booking processes and research options. Whereas traditional travel provider Thomas Cook came last due to the lack of brand interaction, poor use of email marketing and confusing booking processes. Other travel providers evaluated include Hotels.com, Virgin Atlantic, TripAdvisor, lastminute.com, Expedia, easyJet and Kuoni.
Webcredible Founder and CEO, Trenton Moss says: ‘Brands are generally providing a very high standard of online and app usability. There is room for improvement in some areas particularly among traditional/longstanding providers, possibly due to more complex internal operations. With mobile and social usage only set to increase, there is a new generation of providers ready to fill the niche in the online travel market.
‘It is no longer enough to simply have an online presence. The travel industry needs to capitalise on the vast opportunities available to interact and guide the consumer at every digital touchpoint and stage of their journey when booking a holiday.’