Study Reveals Poor User Experience

driving away customers from travel websites

. October 14, 2008

SEPTEMBER 26, 2006. Online travel companies are missing out on bookings and actively encouraging users to visit rival websites, according to web usability consultancy Webcredible.

A study of over 25 travel websites reveals that hidden charges, cumbersome search functions and booking forms that are hard to find are among the top mistakes made by some of the UK's biggest online travel agencies.

In a new report launched today, Webcredible provides unique insights into the common errors made by online travel companies and reveals the main reasons why holiday-makers might click away from a travel website. These include:

o Not allowing them to be flexible with their dates

o Not using 'print-friendly' page layouts

o Not promoting competitive prices on the homepage

The Webcredible report also provides practical advice on simple, inexpensive changes that travel companies can make to their websites to encourage repeat visits and dramatically increase conversion rates by as much as 100 per cent.

'The travel sector experiences one of the highest levels of comparison shopping online, with a massive one in four visits to travel websites coming from another site in the same category,' said Trenton Moss, director of Webcredible. 'Users are unlikely to hang around for long if they can't find what they're looking for, but by making a number of easy-to-implement changes online travel companies can significantly improve the satisfaction of their website visitors, ultimately leading to increased bookings.'

Webcredible has compiled the Online Travel Sector Usability Report following user testing and expert reviews of more than 25 travel websites in June and July 2006. The report is available to download from the Webcredible website.

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Revenue Management: Focus On Profit

Revenue Management is still a relatively new profession within hotel operations and as such, it continues to evolve. One significant trend in this area is a shift away from using revenue as the foundation to generate key performance indicators (KPIs) and to instead place the emphasis on profit. Traditionally, revenue managers have relied on total revenue per available room (TrevPAR) and revenue per available room (RevPAR) as the basis of their KPIs. Now, some revenue managers are using gross operating profit per available room (GOPPAR) as their primary KPI. This puts profit at the center of revenue management strategy, and managers are increasingly searching for new ways to increase the profitability of their hotels. Return on Investment is the objective of any hotel investment, so it is only logical that profitability and ROI will be emphasized going forward. Another trend is an expanded focus on direct hotel bookings. Revenue managers know that one way to increase profitability is to steer guests away from online travel agencies (OTAs) and book directly with the hotel. This tactic also reinforces brand identity and loyalty, and encourages repeat business. In addition, it provides a valuable platform to market the hotel directly to the customer, and to upsell room upgrades or other services to them. Another trend for revenue managers involves automation in their software programs. Revenue management systems with automation are far more desirable than those without it. Automating data entry and logistics increases efficiency, allowing managers to spend more time on formulating strategy. As a bonus, an automated system helps with aggregating and interpreting data. The October issue of the Hotel Business Review will address these developments and document how some leading hotels are executing their revenue management strategies.