Customer satisfaction slipping with online travel agents

December 4, 2007

According to the latest J D Power survey anyway…

The industry as a whole has slipped in their rankings from a score of 810 out of 1000 down to 802. Not a massive slip but in these days of advanced internet applications we should be trying to raise that figure significantly.

Hotwire, Travelocity and Expedia have all done very well. Other findings include:

  • The accuracy of reservations made on independent travel websites has improved slightly since 2006. In 2007, 95% of reservations were reported as error-free, compared with 94% in the previous year.
  • The study also finds that nearly one-half (49%) of all travel-related reservations in 2007 were booked on the web, an increase from 46% in 2005.
  • Across the industry, independent travel websites overall receive their lowest marks for appearance/design of website.
  • Generation X and Y travelers are more likely to book a reservation on price-focused websites, such as Priceline.com and Hotwire.com, compared with Baby Boomers and Pre-Boomers.

Here’s the list of results:

What this says to me is that:

  1. Consumers expect a much better experience than travel sites can provide currently. Their expectations are advancing quicker than we can develop new online experiences for them.
  2. OTA’s are spending so much on advertising and product that they are not advancing technically at the rates they used to be. OTA’s used to be some of the most advanced websites around, no more I’m afraid.
  3. Usability is not being embraced by the travel industry. This needs to happen and fast!

I would love to see if satisfaction has improved with other types of online travel players such as hotel brands and tour operators. My gut feel is that this result is another sign of the consumer shift to doing it themselves and away from online travel agents. Also a sign of the increasing sophistication of the historically lacking tour operators.

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