Basic site faults ‘could cost travel firms £2bn a year’

Basic site faults ‘could cost travel firms £2bn a year’

New research has found that travel firms could be putting at risk up to £2 billion of sales a year due to simple faults with their websites.

Travel analytics specialist QuBit came up with the figure having analysed data from nearly 8,000 online travel customers. QuBit said the main errors found were in the areas of pricing, user experience and product and that this was directly contributing to lost travel sales.

Graham Cooke, chief executive of QuBit, said: “In a market where travel buyers are becoming more price constrained and picky in their choice of supplier, travel retailers simply can’t afford to be losing sales to basic mistakes. 

“The issue is that the journey a customer takes towards a purchase is getting ever more complicated. They might research, select and buy across multiple visits and multiple sites and therefore tracking where problems are occurring can be complex. 

“This research cuts through that complexity and shows where revenues are leaking out of the system.”

The findings came from application of QuBit’s Exit Feedback technology, which monitors user experience and records what happens at their point of exit from the buying process.

Cooke added: “The common theme with all of these issues is that they’re not in themselves particularly complex or hard to resolve, but they’re the problems that are causing travel retailers the most money.

“It’s often easy to get caught up in rip-and-replace projects, trying to overcome your site issues by installing a whole new system. 

“However, what this research shows is that it’s often possible to generate a greater ROI by identifying and solving the mass of smaller issues that could be directly costing you sales.”

QuBit said with 60% of consumers now researching trips online and 50% booking on the web it was more important than ever to make sure sites operate efficiently.

 – Download the QuBit white papers (pdf, 4MB)

Top 10 reasons for lost travel purchases

– 1. Price: The search for lower prices was a constant theme, underlining the need for the best presentation of all pricing options.  Meanwhile, feedback was also focused on disparities between advertised prices and those found on the site themselves.

– 2. Functionality: Access to time saving functionality was an important consideration, whether this be features such as records of saved searches or previous bookings.

– 3. On-site search: Site search for travel companies needs to be able to cope with a broad range of uses, from the first time visitor researching destinations through to a converting buyer looking for specific deals.  Search functionality needs to be presented accordingly.

– 4. Product description: Information about travel products, including text, photos, videos and reviews, is vital in the purchase process and so ensuring it is adequate and well displayed is vital to retail success.

– 5. Additional charges: Whilst EU law dictates that prices must now be displayed with all additional costs included, the presentation of these costs is still a consideration for many consumers and optional extra charges should be set in line with competitors.

– 6. Navigation: Complaints around navigation focused on a lack of basic sorting and filtering functionality, enabling consumers to home in on the holiday of their preference quickly and easily.

– 7. Discounts/sales: In this economic climate consumers are more focused than ever on securing the best price for a holiday.  Last minute offers or dedicated bargain sections were sought by buyers, along with loyalty rewards for regular customers.

– 8. Errors and bugs: Site errors not only cause short term frustration, they can permanently damage a site’s reputation with buyers.  Simple issues such as browser compatibility can completely exclude some buyers from a site.

– 9. Speed: The slow loading of pages, and particularly of search results, was a major irritant for travel buyers.  Given that most buyers will be looking at multiple sites, a slow loading page can be a significant disincentive to purchase.

– 10. Availability: Users become frustrated having invested the time into searching for products only to find that these are not available to purchase. Sites need to ensure that unavailable products are flagged as such at an early stage.

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