More than 50% of all hotel websites do not make clear whether displayed rates are for a room or per person, confusing customers who search between accommodation and holiday sites, according to a report issued today by Travel UCD, a leading consultancy in travel and hospitality website design.
The 50-page report, titled Hotel Booking Process Design and Usability, studied the user interfaces of 87 leading travel agency, hotel booking agency and hotel chain websites, to assess the ease of the consumer booking process.
Travel UCD's (www.travelucd.com) findings show that only 48% of rates displayed on results pages explain whether the price is for a room - the hotel industry standard - or for a person - the holiday industry standard - which leads to customer confusion on the likely cost of their stay.
The research also discovers that less than 20% of websites can handle all the common types of room occupancy offered by hotels; for example, reserving two rooms for three adults, or booking one superior and one standard double room for two couples.
Families also lose out, with many hotel websites unable to offer rooms for child occupancy, or, conversely, accepting bookings for child occupancy when legal regulations forbid the reservation.
Alex Bainbridge, Travel UCD senior consultant and report author said: "With online hotel reservations predicted to reach 20% of all online travel bookings by 20051, websites are striving to achieve maximum user stickiness. Many sites do not meet the usability needs of their customers, despite the keenness of consumers to book on the web.
"The majority of problems are simple design errors, which can be solved without the need for a complicated website overhaul."
The report, targeted at hotel groups, online agencies and e-wholesalers, measures each site's efficiency and error count, and examines the learnability, memorability, and user satisfaction of each.
Travel UCD's report is based on a functionality evaluation of 87 sites and extensive usability testing of the six most representative websites, conducted by 24 computer-literate users. Industry standards say a group of six people is enough to find 90% of a website's usability problems for conventional users.
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