Traditional travel firms failing online shoppers

Traditional travel firms offer customers an inferior online experience compared with dedicated web rivals, according to a survey released this week.

Customers are let down by trade sites throughout the process – when searching, selecting and purchasing – says the Travel Website Benchmarks 2007 report produced by online analyst Global Reviews.

Researchers compared travel, airline, hotel and car hire sites to produce a guide to best practice.

Global Reviews director Adam Goodvach said: “The traditional package holiday companies are not where you find best practice. Some of them have not embraced the web with the same enthusiasm and precision as the pure online players.”

He declined to identify the trade’s poorer sites, but said: “British Airways does a great job. TheTrainline is particularly bad.”

Goodvach said most sites struggle to offer dynamic packaging: “How customers add a hotel to a flight is a challenge.

The report suggests many companies, especially the low-cost carriers, frustrate consumers by failing to display contact phone numbers.

Goodvach said: “Some companies would rather lose a sale than have to take a phone call. But it is definitely best practice to provide a number during the booking process.”

The report warns against requests for unnecessary information and allowing marketing concerns to dominate.

“Users often don’t want to hear from a company unless they request it,” said Goodvach. “We recommend sites do not ask customers to register.”

The survey is available to subscribers of online marketing company e-consultancy.

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