Travel UCD , a leading consultancy in travel and hospitality website design, has called on the online hotel reservations market to respond to consumers` real needs in order to build market share.
Caption: Alex Bainbridge,
Senior Consultant - Travel UCD
The appeal for industry best practice marks the launch of Travel UCD`s final report in a series of three defining online standards for hotel websites. The study, titled Hotel Search Design & Usability, concludes many sites are still making elementary search functionality errors and causing customer confusion.
Major problems include sites only offering a city search, when leisure travellers are often looking for tourist regions, such as the Algarve or Florida; search functionality that is not consistent across websites, and insufficient information for users to correct mistakes.
Travel UCD`s report highlights over 30 practical guidelines to help sites convert lookers into bookers. These include changing search box labels, enabling results to be easily refined, and maximising opportunities for user help.
Alex Bainbridge, Travel UCD senior consultant and report author, commented: “Companies must react to changing standards in e-commerce to ensure customers can intuitively understand and use their websites. In a market where consumers are spoilt for choice, they will avoid sites where they can`t find what they want immediately.”
The complete series of reports, which also includes usability surveys into date entry and booking process design and usability, provides almost 90 benchmarks that collectively amount to a checklist defining industry best practice.
Travel UCD`s 49-page Hotel Search Design & Usability report is based on a functionality evaluation of 52 of the leading hotel booking websites, comprising 16 travel agencies and 36 hotel booking agencies, and a 12 person usability test on five leading hotel booking websites.
The study is targeted at designers and product managers of websites focused on both the leisure and business markets and is available for purchase from TravelUCD.com (www.travelucd.com), priced at £100. The full series of three reports, together with details of how the buyer`s website complies with each guideline, and a briefing from Travel UCD is available at a special price of £650.