While cost is a major factor for both business and leisure travelers when booking their trips, site navigability and functionality are a close second to price. Even if the price is right, users will balk at Website problems or abandon their purchase if they have trouble navigating and dealing with the checkout process. In addition, travel bookers — particularly business travelers — may not return to sites they have encountered problems with to make future plans.
A January 2010 survey of U.S. online travel bookers by PhoCusWright found that while too-high prices were the main driver to booking abandonment, a litany of site-related complaints followed, including not wanting to register, slow loading times, and general frustration or confusion.
These problems can also prevent travel bookers from returning in the future. More than one-third of all travelers told PhoCusWright that site problems would make them less likely to shop again. Business travelers, who are more likely than leisure travelers to book a trip on any given travel site visit, were especially harsh in their condemnation. They were more likely than average to say they would immediately turn to a competing travel site (23%) and tell friends, family and co-workers about their bad experience (14%).
The "Hospitality & Tourism Industry Report, Q4 2009" from customer satisfaction measurement firm iPerceptions indicated that after price considerations, convenient, hassle-free Websites with high measures of responsiveness led to the most completed bookings.
"Once price has been removed as a barrier, site functionality and convenience for the booking process are key to growing conversion and minimizing chances of losing the visitor to the competition," the report said.[Source: "Making Usability a Priority for Travel Sites," eMarketer. 13 May 2010. Web. 20 May 2010.]