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Posted by on Aug 5, 2009 in *Hot*, TripClips, TripTips |

Just Released Forrester Research Finds Frustration With Online Travel Websites

Forrester Research issued a new study, “Using Digital Channels to Calm the Angry Traveler,” by Henry Harteveldt, that reports there are 15 percent fewer travelers who enjoy using the web in 2009 than there were in 2007.

Just one in three online travelers in the U.S. feels that travel websites do a good job presenting travel choices, down from 39 percent in 2008. A greater percentage of travelers who are fed up with travel websites may be returning to use traditional travel agents.

According to Harteveldt, travelers feel that they, and their business, are taken for granted by travel websites. “Travelers — both business and leisure — are frustrated, confused, and annoyed,” he writes in the report. “They’re unhappy with the way the channels they’re asked to use are designed and configured. They’re not sure what they’re actually buying, because travel organizations’ focus on generating revenue has come at the expense of the selling and customer engagement process. And travelers say the service they receive is inadequate.”

According to the report, more travelers express interest in using offline travel agencies. In a 2008 Forrester survey, 23 percent of U.S. online leisure travelers stated they would consider using a good offline travel agency if they could find one. This year that’s up to 26 percent in 2009. “That more travelers would consider using a less convenient channel reflects their growing frustration with the confusing, uninspiring experiences found on most travel websites,” the report says.

To reverse travelers’ dissatisfaction and avoid having them abandon the web in favor of other, more expensive offline channels, the Forrester report says travel eBusiness professionals must rethink their approach to travel eBusiness. To reverse this trend and re-engage travelers, travel eBusiness professionals must recognize that travel eBusiness is comprised of four continuous phases supported by the five pillars of merchandising, context, engagement, value, and customer appreciation. The report says to expect travel eBusiness professionals to be asked to become more involved with customer data strategy and for global distribution systems (GDSs) to evolve into more useful global merchandising systems (GMSs).

There are 130.3 million online travelers in the U.S. and another 127.7 million in Europe, representing 87 percent of U.S. travelers and 73 percent of European travelers, respectively. As a result, the report says, travel organizations, especially commercial enterprises like airlines, hotels, cruise lines, and travel agencies, must pay more attention to the eBusiness processes and experiences they deliver to their customers. For information on ordering the full report, call Forrester at 617-613-6000, email forrester@forrester.com  or visit www.forrester.com.

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