Travel websites moving into customers’ social spaces

Travel websites moving into customers’ social spaces

The latest eTravel Benchmark results show that many more travel websites are encouraging customers to engage with them via social media and developing apps for use on the move giving customers a much more constant level of exposure to the brand allowing for deeper engagement.

However sites are failing to capitalise on the full potential of social media. By not suggesting site visitors share the ‘product’ they have found, they miss the opportunity for it to be seen by potentially hundreds of people within their social group, which is likely to be much more extensive than just relying on word of mouth. Why is this important? Over half of respondents to a recent eDigitalResearch travel study said their choice of holiday destination is inspired by friends and family.

The eTravel Benchmark found that sites are beginning to open up communication channels with online users to help inform booking decisions. Many of the top performing sites now offer live help and chat facilities, as well as promoting links to established social media pages, offering advice and strengthening relationships with online users.

Derek Eccleston, Research Director at eDigitalResearch, explains, ‘It is important that travel sites take the steps to communicate with online users through various platforms, especially social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Trip Advisor where consumers are already conversing with one another. Holidays are often the biggest, single expense of the year and our research demonstrates that consumer satisfaction is steadily increasing as travel sites begin to offer various contact methods and provide the service and reassurance that people now expect.’

Hotel agent, Booking.com topped the overall league table for the first time with a consistently strong performance across the entire online customer journey and an overall score of 83.4%. The site offers users a large amount of relevant results from its search function, providing all necessary information required to make a purchase decision.

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Overall, holiday camps and self catering were the top performing sector, providing industry best practice for customer service. European holiday site Center Parcs topped the telephone customer service table with a score of 92.3%. Competitors Butlins, Canvas Holidays and Haven also made it into the top 5 for telephone contact, with Keycamp topping the email customer service league, all helping to finally bring a consistent customer experience.

On average, hotel chain sites were the lowest performing sector, with many sites lacking fundamental website basics, such as FAQ’s and a reliable and responsive phone and email customer service. Budget travel brands also performed poorly across the customer journey.