Hospitality Sector Websites Should Improve Responsiveness

Even as the hospitality industry is seeing renewed enthusiasm to travel, the companies in the sector should improve website responsiveness in order to maximise travel purchases, according to a report.

According to iPerceptions’ Hospitality and Tourism Industry Report for Q2 2011, despite the volatile economic climate, there was an increase in bookers to hospitality websites since Q1 2011, as well as an increase in loyalty programme members.

Importantly, the metrics of Overall Satisfaction and Task Completion on websites improved significantly not only since the past quarter, but versus the same quarter last year, suggesting that hospitality providers are continually improving not only their online offering, but their overall brand experience as well.

Satisfaction score

The overall satisfaction score for the hospitality industry was 72 in Q2 2011, up significantly from 71 in Q1 2011 and 69 Q2 2010. This increase stems mainly from leisure travellers, whose overall satisfaction scores rose to 73 in Q2 2011, from 72 in Q1 2011 and 69 in Q2 2010.

Since leisure travellers make up the majority of hospitality website visitors, this gain in overall satisfaction scores is an important finding, as visitors reporting positive experiences are more likely to not only return to a website, but make a booking as well. The good news is that hospitality companies perform well when it comes to developing sites that are easy to navigate, and as such, enabling their visitors to find what they need. This is reflected in Ease of use and Discovery scores, which are rated at the higher end of the Attribute spectrum. Since they also exert a strong level of influence on overall satisfaction, brands should try to maintain these core strengths.

On the other hand, site Responsiveness, which involves interactive elements associated with the booking process such as calendar functionality, room selection, personal information input, etc., was not only the lowest rated Key Driver of visitors’ overall satisfaction, but the most influential. Therefore, when it comes to prioritising website enhancements, streamlining and optimising the booking process should be the area on which to focus in order to promote booking.

The report indicates that price is still important. Visitors are still skeptical about the rates they see on a website and will shop around in order to find the best deal. However, many visitors are used to shopping around and therefore place more importance on issues related to the website, such as features and functions, when it comes to optimising their experience.

Purpose of visit and task completion

Almost half of hospitality website visitors were Lookers, while close to 30 percent were there to Book. Importantly, the share of bookers increased from 28 percent in Q1 2011 to 29 percent in Q2 2011. Leisure travellers were primarily responsible for this gain (from 31 percent to 33 percent), which is to be expected given the onset of the summer travel planning season. Still, bookers were more common within the business segment (37 percent, Q2 2011).

Task completion scores increased significantly to 71 percent in Q2 2011 from 69 percent in Q1 2011. The growth is even more pronounced when compared to Q2 2010, when only 66 percent of visitors were able to complete their tasks. Gains were reported for most tasks, however booking continues to yield the lowest level of task completion. The most common barrier to booking was price, echoing Bottom line ratings mentioned above, and visitor indecision regarding their plans. After this, issues directly related to the website surfaced, as 15 percent were unable to find what they were looking for, 14 percent reported issues with booking (including trying to book for multiple people, trying to add options, trying to book with points, not enough selection, error messages, rates changing), and 11 percent encountered availability issues.

Noteworthy is that issues with booking as well as technical problems decreased since last quarter, which helps contribute to the gains in overall experience and task completion scores reported this quarter. Still, the presence of problems (including technical) associated with booking reinforce the importance of site responsiveness and explain why it surfaces as the most influential element of the online experience.

(Source: http://bit.ly/xGEPCd)