Ease of use of travel booking websites

23 Jun 2006 - 11:01am
7 years ago
8 replies
675 reads
John Gr√łtting
2006

I assume that most people here have used www.google.com. It is
wonderfully easy to use.

If I compare this to travel websites, though, I can't say the same.
Obviously, the tasks are much more complex, but I still feel that
websites like Expedia overload the user and miss out on opportunities
to simplify tasks. Not only that, but they miss out completely on the
opportunity to get the customer excited about their travel destination.

Let me throw out some theoretical numbers: 50% of customers drop-off
at the homepage and only 10% of people who intend to book ever
complete their tasks. If anyone has better guesses or real numbers,
that would be great to hear.

My questions, though, is what do you, my fellow interaction/usability
experts, believe would be realistic improvements targets? This could
be applied to other types of website, I just chose this to be specific.

cheers,

John Grøtting

Grøtting + Sauter
Barnerstr. 14B
22765 Hamburg
Germany

Tel +49.40.398.34342
SkypeIn +1.818.574.8440
Fax +49.40.398.34340
Mobile +49.172.4246.976
www.g-s.de
g at g-s.de

Comments

23 Jun 2006 - 4:20pm
jstanford
2003

Recently I spent over 20 hours trying to book a flight from California to
Milan and used about every single website out there.

The issue I found was a combination of UI and inaccurate data. Here's what
happened:

1) Airfares would be displayed that when you clicked on them, would not
match an actual fare. Instead, after a long wait, there would be a screen
the informed me that the fare was no longer available but a more expensive
(often even $4,000) fare was available. This is very bait and switch and
afflicted all the sites including Orbitz, Expedia, Kayak, Travelocity,
Sidestep, and lesser known sites.

2) Sites did not include searches on Europe's low far carriers.
Consequently, in order to put together a trip that involved a major carrier
across the Atlantic and then a smaller carrier once I got off in Europe, I
had to do individual searches on the small carrier sites and try to match up
my time tables to get all my flight plans in order.

Sites let you search surrounding airports within 60 miles or whatever but
don't let you say...I want to go anywhere in England or anywhere in Europe
for cheap and then take a puddle jumper to my real destination. Since you
can do this on your own, there should be a way to do it automatically. Or
better yet, should automatically take this strategy and offer the cheapest
option because it has the intelligence to do it.

3) Sites like Travelocity and others have started offering the ability to
search to find the cheapest fare regardless of the date. Neat! However, once
you search for the cheapest fare, you get a calendar of dates the fare might
be available. You then have to click on each date, wait, and then learn if
(a) there is even a flight that day and (b) if the cheap fare is still
available. This turns into a long crazy guessing game with the calendar,
clicking on dates in order of your preference and hoping that you get that
promised cheap rate. At the end, sometimes the rate is never available. What
a stupid feature! Isn't the database strong enough to actually tell you not
only that the cheap fare exists but when it is really available?

4) Many sites have started offering flexibility like flying around a certain
day give or take a few. This is cool but is still broken.

For example, if you want to be away for 2 weeks, you should be able to
indicate that you want to be away for two weeks around a certain time and
you don't care what the exact dates are ...but might have a small pref.
Instead, you have to say that you are 3 days flexible around your start and
end date. This is not the same because if it is three days out in both
directions, then suddenly you have a 3 week vacation which doesn't work.

Alright, there's my rant.

Julie

_____________________________________
Julie Stanford
Principal, Sliced Bread Design | www.slicedbreaddesign.com
650-799-7225

> -----Original Message-----
> From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
> [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On
> Behalf Of John Grøtting
> Sent: Friday, June 23, 2006 9:02 AM
> To: discuss at ixda.org
> Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Ease of use of travel booking websites
>
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant
> quoted material.]
>
> I assume that most people here have used www.google.com. It
> is wonderfully easy to use.
>
> If I compare this to travel websites, though, I can't say the same.
> Obviously, the tasks are much more complex, but I still feel
> that websites like Expedia overload the user and miss out on
> opportunities to simplify tasks. Not only that, but they miss
> out completely on the opportunity to get the customer excited
> about their travel destination.
>
> Let me throw out some theoretical numbers: 50% of customers
> drop-off at the homepage and only 10% of people who intend to
> book ever complete their tasks. If anyone has better guesses
> or real numbers, that would be great to hear.
>
> My questions, though, is what do you, my fellow
> interaction/usability experts, believe would be realistic
> improvements targets? This could be applied to other types of
> website, I just chose this to be specific.
>
> cheers,
>
> John Grøtting
>
> Grøtting + Sauter
> Barnerstr. 14B
> 22765 Hamburg
> Germany
>
> Tel +49.40.398.34342
> SkypeIn +1.818.574.8440
> Fax +49.40.398.34340
> Mobile +49.172.4246.976
> www.g-s.de
> g at g-s.de
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org List Guidelines
> ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/ List Help
> .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/ (Un)Subscription
> Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
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> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org Home
> ....................... http://ixda.org/ Resource Library
> ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

24 Jun 2006 - 2:25am
Tori Egherman
2005

After years of booking my own travel using all sorts of online apps, I
have rediscovered the joys of a good travel agent. You would not
believe how nice it is to have someone else do the work. (Of course I
now live off the expedia/travelocity grid).

That said, my parents, who are not online whizzes, have recently
started using Orbitz. They live in a smallish town with unpredictable
midwestern weather. They love the fact that Orbitz rebooks and
reschedules for them when there are problems.

Solutions that are 100% application based, will never work. That said,
I would love the application to work like a good agent: For instance,
I should be able to say that I am interested in the cheapest flight to
a certain location within a certain time range. I would love to walk
away then and let the app do the work for me. I don't want to sit
there making decisions. When I have problems, I want them solved
without much fuss. I want the information I need to be clear: how much
I have to pay to reschedule a flight, how much luggage I can bring,
who I have to call when there are problems. Travel can be complicated
and unpredictable. I hate when I am stranded and left to deal with
problems on my own.

Well... a big part of what I want requires a bit of restructuring of
the airline business itself.

Tori

26 Jun 2006 - 3:22am
Todd Warfel
2003

It seems to me that there are at least three user types that must be
considered when designing travel sites.

1.) Those people who are after deals on flights - Probably are more flexible
on travel dates & destinations

2.) Those people who are after flights to a specific location - Less
emphasis upon deals although still a factor and are probably less concerned
about learning about their destination

3) Those people who are seeking inspiration and are trying to decide upon a
destination - deals are important although not as important as providing
useful, exciting information upon the various destinations.

So in summary to satisfy these sites need to provide:

1.) Deals - Useful, accurate deals - Not make the user have to dig around to
find them

2.) Flight finder - Allow people to find flights but also cater for those
people with less stringent requirements, i.e flexible dates, cheap flights
between selected dates, 'I want to go away for 2 weeks in August/September'
etc

3.) Deals - Show me cheapest deals on a route, with specific dates - don't
make me hunt around to find them.

Is there any more user types? Any more site requirements?

On 24/06/06, Tori Egherman <tori.egherman at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> material.]
>
> After years of booking my own travel using all sorts of online apps, I
> have rediscovered the joys of a good travel agent. You would not
> believe how nice it is to have someone else do the work. (Of course I
> now live off the expedia/travelocity grid).
>
> That said, my parents, who are not online whizzes, have recently
> started using Orbitz. They live in a smallish town with unpredictable
> midwestern weather. They love the fact that Orbitz rebooks and
> reschedules for them when there are problems.
>
> Solutions that are 100% application based, will never work. That said,
> I would love the application to work like a good agent: For instance,
> I should be able to say that I am interested in the cheapest flight to
> a certain location within a certain time range. I would love to walk
> away then and let the app do the work for me. I don't want to sit
> there making decisions. When I have problems, I want them solved
> without much fuss. I want the information I need to be clear: how much
> I have to pay to reschedule a flight, how much luggage I can bring,
> who I have to call when there are problems. Travel can be complicated
> and unpredictable. I hate when I am stranded and left to deal with
> problems on my own.
>
> Well... a big part of what I want requires a bit of restructuring of
> the airline business itself.
>
> Tori
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

26 Jun 2006 - 7:26am
Todd Warfel
2003

Would a small business traveler who likes that all their travel
information is kept in one discreet place so they can review past
flights, book easily in the future, etc. be another one? Or are do
their goals and behaviors overlap enough that they fit into one of
the categories below?

Cheers!

Todd R. Warfel
Partner, Design & Usability Specialist
Messagefirst | designing and usability consulting
--------------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (607) 339-9640
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
--------------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

On Jun 26, 2006, at 4:22 AM, howzat.uk wrote:

> 1.) Those people who are after deals on flights - Probably are more
> flexible
> on travel dates & destinations
>
> 2.) Those people who are after flights to a specific location - Less
> emphasis upon deals although still a factor and are probably less
> concerned
> about learning about their destination
>
> 3) Those people who are seeking inspiration and are trying to
> decide upon a
> destination - deals are important although not as important as
> providing
> useful, exciting information upon the various destinations.

26 Jun 2006 - 7:35am
Todd Warfel
2003

What would their motivation be? Being able to review past flights would help
them achieve what? would deals be important to them? I don't think they
would be seeking inspiration about their destination? I guess they would
have specif travel dates?

On 26/06/06, Todd Warfel <lists at toddwarfel.com> wrote:
>
> Would a small business traveler who likes that all their travel
> information is kept in one discreet place so they can review past flights,
> book easily in the future, etc. be another one? Or are do their goals and
> behaviors overlap enough that they fit into one of the categories below?
>
>
> Cheers!
>
> Todd R. Warfel
> Partner, Design & Usability Specialist
> Messagefirst | designing and usability consulting
> --------------------------------------
> *Contact Info*
> Voice: (607) 339-9640 Email: todd at messagefirst.com
> AIM: twarfel at mac.com
> Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
> --------------------------------------
> In theory, theory and practice are the same.
> In practice, they are not.
>
>
> On Jun 26, 2006, at 4:22 AM, howzat.uk wrote:
>
> 1.) Those people who are after deals on flights - Probably are more
> flexible
>
> on travel dates & destinations
>
>
> 2.) Those people who are after flights to a specific location - Less
>
> emphasis upon deals although still a factor and are probably less
> concerned
>
> about learning about their destination
>
>
> 3) Those people who are seeking inspiration and are trying to decide upon
> a
>
> destination - deals are important although not as important as providing
>
> useful, exciting information upon the various destinations.
>
>
>

26 Jun 2006 - 7:46am
Todd Warfel
2003

Keeping track of previous travel arrangements is important for a
couple of reasons:
* You need to bill them back to the client
* You're going to go back to that destination again with the same
type of arrangements (e.g. book the same rental car, same hotel, same
airline, similar flight time)

So, their innovation might be to look up a previous "Travel Plan" and
book it again.

Cheers!

Todd R. Warfel
Partner, Design & Usability Specialist
Messagefirst | designing and usability consulting
--------------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (607) 339-9640
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
--------------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

On Jun 26, 2006, at 8:35 AM, howzat.uk wrote:

> What would their motivation be? Being able to review past flights
> would help them achieve what? would deals be important to them? I
> don't think they would be seeking inspiration about their
> destination? I guess they would have specif travel dates?

26 Jun 2006 - 8:06am
Todd Warfel
2003

Sounds like a fourth user type to me:

4.) Re-book: Want to make a booking based upon previous arrangements. Sounds
like Deals and destination inspiration wont be of great importance to these
people. However Information upon a destination such as car hire, hotels etc
may be.

Any more user types?

Also do you think that the four user types identified so far will change
between different types of travel sites e.g. Coach trave. rail travel,
Holiday planning, Flights booking etc.

On 26/06/06, Todd Warfel <lists at toddwarfel.com> wrote:
>
> Keeping track of previous travel arrangements is important for a couple
> of reasons: * You need to bill them back to the client
> * You're going to go back to that destination again with the same type of
> arrangements (e.g. book the same rental car, same hotel, same airline,
> similar flight time)
>
>
> So, their innovation might be to look up a previous "Travel Plan" and book
> it again.
>
>
> Cheers!
>
> Todd R. Warfel
> Partner, Design & Usability Specialist
> Messagefirst | designing and usability consulting
> --------------------------------------
> *Contact Info*
> Voice: (607) 339-9640 Email: todd at messagefirst.com
> AIM: twarfel at mac.com
> Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
> --------------------------------------
> In theory, theory and practice are the same.
> In practice, they are not.
>
>
> On Jun 26, 2006, at 8:35 AM, howzat.uk wrote:
>
> What would their motivation be? Being able to review past flights would
> help them achieve what? would deals be important to them? I don't think they
> would be seeking inspiration about their destination? I guess they would
> have specif travel dates?
>
>
>

26 Jun 2006 - 8:27am
Todd Warfel
2003

As someone who travels quite a bit, I don't think so. But then, I
don't take the rail as often as I fly.

Cheers!

Todd R. Warfel
Partner, Design & Usability Specialist
Messagefirst | designing and usability consulting
--------------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (607) 339-9640
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
--------------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

On Jun 26, 2006, at 9:06 AM, howzat.uk wrote:

> Sounds like a fourth user type to me:
>
> 4.) Re-book: Want to make a booking based upon previous
> arrangements. Sounds like Deals and destination inspiration wont be
> of great importance to these people. However Information upon a
> destination such as car hire, hotels etc may be.
>
>
> Any more user types?
>
> Also do you think that the four user types identified so far will
> change between different types of travel sites e.g. Coach trave.
> rail travel, Holiday planning, Flights booking etc.
>
>
> On 26/06/06, Todd Warfel <lists at toddwarfel.com> wrote:
> Keeping track of previous travel arrangements is important for a
> couple of reasons:
> * You need to bill them back to the client
> * You're going to go back to that destination again with the same
> type of arrangements (e.g. book the same rental car, same hotel,
> same airline, similar flight time)
>
>
> So, their innovation might be to look up a previous "Travel Plan"
> and book it again.
>
>
> Cheers!
>
> Todd R. Warfel
> Partner, Design & Usability Specialist
> Message f irst | designing and usability consulting
> --------------------------------------
> Contact Info
> Voice: (607) 339-9640
> Email: todd at messagefirst.com
> AIM: twarfel at mac.com
> Blog : http://toddwarfel .com
> --------------------------------------
> In theory, theory and practice are the same.
> In practice, they are not.
>
>
> On Jun 26, 2006, at 8:35 AM, howzat.uk wrote:
>
>> What would their motivation be? Being able to review past flights
>> would help them achieve what? would deals be important to them? I
>> don't think they would be seeking inspiration about their
>> destination? I guess they would have specif travel dates?
>
>

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