Question mark over super-functionality on travel sites

Travel sites are forgetting what is important to consumers and focusing on the latest gadgets and functionality according to new research.

The study conducted by Harris Interactive for Tealeaf said online security, completing the transaction and getting a receipt for it are what are most important to consumers.

Despite the current focus on personalisation by many travel websites, Tealeaf vice president of marketing and product strategy Geoff Galat said personalisation was not that important to online shoppers.

Where there is personalisation consumers don’t realise it and think they are just getting a good experience, Galat added.

He also said that travel companies were losing money by having too much on their sites often making them forget to have ‘the lights on and the cash register working’.

“There will always be people convincing you of the bells and whistles but often there is too much emphasis on it.

The study estimates that UK companies are missing out on revenue of £11.9 million by not improving the user experience.

Galat said that one of the areas travel companies needed to focus on was linking up distribution channels including shops, call-centres and websites.

The study shows that 75% of users that contacted a call-centre across a number of sectors found that the agent lacked knowledge of the website.

The research also reveals that 49% of people who encounter problems online will abandon a transaction altogether or switch to a competitor – compared with 37% in 2007.

“People forget that self-service often requires an element of service. Businesses have not thought through how to connect the dots.”

Galat concluded that travel is no worse than other sectors but that the sector is more prone to online pitfalls because of its complexity.

“Travel sites tend to be less sticky because it is easy to go somewhere else. It’s about asking what things are happening to our customers along the journey and recognising these issues exist.”

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