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Customer Satisfaction with Indy Travel Sites Declines; Hotwire Stays Hot


I want off this boat. Now.

As travel costs increase and customer satisfaction with the industry decreases, so has satisfaction with independent travel websites, according to the JD Power and Associates 2007 Independent Travel Website Satisfaction (ITWS) Study, writes MarketingCharts.

The study measures the satisfaction of travelers who book airline, hotel or rental car reservations through one of eight major independent travel websites.

Overall customer satisfaction with independent travel websites has decreased 8 points in the past year, from 810 (on a 1,000-point scale) in 2006 to 802 in 2007, according to the study.

Six factors were examined to measure customer satisfaction (in order of importance): competitiveness of price; ease of booking; usefulness of the information on the website; availability of booking options/travel packages; appearance/design of website; and ease of navigation.

Top Sites

For a second consecutive year, Hotwire.com ranks highest among independent travel websites in satisfying customers who book their reservations online, performing particularly well in competitiveness of pricing and ease of navigation.

Travelocity.com and Expedia.com follow in the rankings.

Travelocity.com performs particularly well in four of the six factors: ease of booking; usefulness of the information on the website; availability of booking options/travel packages; and appearance/design of the website.

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Other Findings

  • The accuracy of reservations made on independent travel websites has improved slightly since 2006. In 2007, 95 percent of reservations were reported as error-free, compared with 94 percent in the previous year.
  • The study also finds that nearly one-half (49 percent) of all travel-related reservations in 2007 were booked on the web, an increase from 46 percent in 2005.
  • Across the industry, independent travel websites overall receive their lowest marks for appearance/design of website.
  • Generation X and Y travelers are more likely to book a reservation on price-focused websites, such as Priceline.com and Hotwire.com, compared with Baby Boomers and Pre-Boomers.

"Various pressures across the travel industry - including increasing fuel and airfare prices, and more frequent air travel delays - have led to notably lower satisfaction levels in 2007, and independent travel websites appear to have been negatively impacted by a snowball effect," said Sam Thanawalla, director of travel and entertainment at J.D. Power and Associates.

"In addition, independent travel websites face challenges related to increased competition from airline- and hotel-branded websites, as well as changing expectations of increasingly internet-savvy consumers."

About the study: The 2007 Independent Travel Website Study is based on responses from 5,414 consumers who booked their travel reservation through an independent website. Consumers were surveyed between October 2006 and September 2007.

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