Travel sites fair poorly in usability study

Travel websites including Thomascook.com and Firstchoice.co.uk must improve the user experience and embrace Web 2.0 if they are to compete in the marketplace, a study has suggested.


Usability consultant Webcredible examined the websites of 20 of the UK’s most popular travel brands and scored them against 20 best practice guidelines.


These benchmark issues such as the quality of the search, providing a clear results page, displaying the full price of a flight, providing contact details and ensuring cancellation details are clear.


Only Opodo, British Airways and Travelbag scored more than 60% with Monarch and Ryanair scoring less than 40% and less. Thomas Cook and First Choice were in the bottom half of the list, scoring 49% and 48%, respectively.


Overall, airlines fared worse than online travel agencies. Carriers scored an average of 48% compared with an average of 55% for agents.


Webcredible director Ismail Ismail said airlines were still failing to address the issue of pricing transparency.


“Users need to have clear and accurate pricing displayed throughout their journey on a site. It’s not acceptable to add hidden charges at the end of the transaction process,” he said.


Travel websites are failing to provide information on airports that may be unfamiliar to customers, he added.


Many of the sites failed to embrace Web 2.0 technologies, with many not even offering an ‘e-mail a friend’ option.


Ismail explained: “Booking a holiday is often a social ­experience and the ability to interact and share the booking process with friends and ­family is essential. Given the sector’s huge growth and potential, top travel sites must use every advantage to be more effective in this highly competitive ­market.”


Top 20 most user-friendly travel websites


   1. Opodo 67%
   2. British Airways 65%
   3. Travelbag 62%
   4. STA Travel 58%
   5. Lastminute.com 56%
   6. Virgin Atlantic 55%
   7. Ebookers 54%
   8. Expedia 53%
   9. Travelocity 53%
  10. BMI 53%
  11. Flight Centre 52%
  12. Thomas Cook 49%
  13. First Choice 48%
  14. Airline Network 47%
  15. EasyJet 46%
  16. Flybe 46%
  17. Thomsonfly 44%
  18. XL.com 44%
  19. Ryanair 40%
  20. Monarch 38%

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