Travel websites fail to capitalise on traffic boom

Under-prepared travel websites are failing to take advantage of high visitor numbers, according to a study by load testing and website monitoring specialist, NCC Group plc Site Confidence.

Each of the 30 leading travel websites surveyed experienced availability problems with their online booking processes between 1st January and 31st March. On average, users were unavailable to complete transactions for a combined total of 89 hours over the test period, with 22 per cent of transactions unavailable for over 100 hours.Separate research from global internet information provider, comScore, found a 15.8 per cent rise in visitor numbers to UK travel websites between December 2008 and March 2009, an improvement on the 9 per cent rise seen for the same period twelve months previously. The UK population made over 300 million visits to travel websites between 1st January and 31st March, consuming over 4.8 billion pages of content.

The research suggests that while other UK sectors are struggling to attract customers during the economic downturn, travel companies are bucking the trend and attracting business but still failing to capitalise fully on the consumer shift from the high street to the web.

Bob Dowson, Director at NCC Group plc Site Confidence, comments: “Now, more than ever, online travel companies must take advantage of peak sales periods and increases in website traffic. However, in failing to provide an error free user experience, many risk severely weakening their market position. It’s akin to the high street store shutting their doors for four minutes everyday for no reason.

“Website functionality issues obviously affect a company’s revenue and reputation, and send its customers into the open arms of competitors, who are only a click away. Load testing can help ensure online travel companies have the necessary capacity to cope with predicted periods of increased traffic, while website monitoring can ensure that user experience remains unaffected by poor performance.”