Holiday camp Haven has topped the latest eTravel Benchmark results from eDigitalResearch with an overall score of 84.5%, the highest since November 2009.
Users rated highly the interactive search features on the Haven website and found the homepage appealing and easy to navigate. Airline Virgin Atlantic made the biggest improvement in the overall league table, jumping 21 places and leap frogging close competitors thanks to a much more responsive telephone customer contact. ‘Staycation’ site Hoseasons and online travel agents Last Minute and First Choice all complete the top five.
After facing several months of difficult trading conditions, the news will come as a much needed lift for the industry as travel firms continue to invest in their online presence in an attempt to boost customer numbers and increase conversion rates.
Derek Eccleston, Research Director at eDigitalResearch comments, “This is an exciting yet crucial time for the travel industry. Another recent study from eDigitalResearch found that online and mobile is becoming increasingly more important for UK travellers, signalling to travel companies the importance of having a strong online presence. The eTravel Benchmark results have often shown over the years that those brands that invest in their websites and offer a bit of ‘inspiration’ with interactive features and richer content, as well as support customers with a responsive and helpful telephone and email customer service repeatedly perform better than their rivals”.
Hotel agents and Holiday Camps once again dominate the top of the league tables. Users often liked the comprehensive search tools and felt reassured by the amount of information on offer. Hotel chains, however, remain bottom in the sector averages, with most sites often neglecting their telephone and email customer service and failing to integrate customer reviews.
Supporting consumer travel research from eDigitalResearch shows that destination remains a top priority in the holiday decision process. It is therefore vital that sites include content such as destination guides, videos and multiple images to really inspire customers and increase booking rates. The research also found that, despite recent press coverage surrounding the legitimacy and nature of customer reviews, 75% of consumer still think that the majority are ‘mostly genuine’, whilst 61% would be more likely to make a booking after reading a positive review.
Since June 2009, the eTravel Benchmark has been documenting the changes to the online travel arena during one of the toughest trading periods for the industry. Covering over 50 sites the study often highlights the poor level of telephone and email customer service experienced by customers. Those sites that fell drastically in this latest wave of results often did so because of a drop in satisfaction with customer contact, something travel firms need to ensure they improve if they are to encourage more online bookings.