Hotels Lead the Way in Online Travel Bookings, Study Finds

Consumers find it easier to book hotels online than flights, but there’s still room for improvement, a study by Edmonton-based Web Mystery Shoppers International Inc. has found. At the airline booking sites studied, 37% of Web Mystery Shoppers(TM) got error messages when they tried to fill in forms, versus only 15% at the hotel sites. When asked if they would recommend the site to a friend, the average response from hotel shoppers was 4.25 on a 5 point scale (where 5 meant “definitely”), versus only 3.86 for those trying to book airplane tickets. However, 75% of air travelers versus only 59% of hotel bookers were confident that they knew what the total costs would be before starting to place their orders.

“Booking a hotel is easier because there aren’t usually as many different options to choose from,” notes Tema Frank, president of Web Mystery Shoppers International Inc. “But I was surprised to find that the airline sites are doing a better job of telling people what their plans will cost. Even business travelers do usually have a budget, so they need to know the costs to make a decision.” Other frustrations for hotel bookers:

* Getting a long list of results with no way to sort it by price.

* Lack of maps or information about where the hotel was located relative to key tourist or business attractions.

* Not being told how much taxes or other fees would add to their total costs before they had to enter their credit card information.

* Lack of photographs of the rooms or hotels under consideration.

These 30 hotel chains and booking agency web sites were studied: Best Western Inc., Cheaprooms.com, Cheaptickets.com, Comfort Inns, Country Inns & Suites, Crowne Plaza, Days Inn, EconoLodge, Expedia.com, Fairmont Hotels, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Hampton Inns, Hilton Hotels, Holiday Inn, Hotels.com, Hotwire.com, Hyatt Hotels, Marriott, Motel 6, Octopustravel.com, Orbitz.com, Priceline.com, Radisson Hotels and Resorts, Red Roof Inns, Sheraton, Super 8, Travelocity.com, Travelogia.com, Travelweb.com, and Westin Hotels.

Both the hotel bookings and airline bookings studies are available for purchase from Web Mystery Shoppers International Inc. Toll-free: 1-866-211-7027. http://www.webmysteryshoppers.com/

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Web Mystery Shoppers International Inc. helps companies increase sales and lower selling costs. By using large numbers of trained, paid testers, who work from their own computers and provide detailed, page-by-page feedback about their experience, clients get insight not only about the web site, but about differences in user perception based on variables like computer and browser systems and Internet experience.

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