Users frustrated with travel websites

A recent report from eMarketer reveals an interesting trend in the online travel market. While U.S. travel booked online will reach $105 billion this year, fewer travelers are booking their trips online. eMarketer’s take is that customer dissatisfaction with online travel agencies is a result of unfriendly booking engines and navigation tools.

At CloudBurst Consulting we alway recommend that hotel and travel industry clients to look at their web reservations systems from a guest’s point-of-view. They are, after all, the point of conversion. So you would think that reservations systems would be tested during design and implementation phases, but this doesn’t seem to be happening – we know of several widely used “out-of-the-box” solutions that are anything but user-friendly. Customers become frustrated and go elsewhere, or revert to the phone to make their booking (which ultimately costs more to service than an online booking).

The sad truth is that travel and hospitality clients get stuck with systems that quickly become outdated and remain inflexible, presented as mysterious “black boxes” that lock them into vendor relationships that limit their revenue growth. Ultimately, this doesn’t work for the clients, and certainly not for their prospective guests, as the eMarketer report makes clear.

While testing all elements of a travel website from a user’s perspective is a very good idea; selecting a reservations system that provides flexible and customizable interface tools is essential. With today’s more application-oriented web, it’s possible to build systems that are responsive to customer interactions, predicting and supporting them intuitively.

The eMarketer reports the growth of examples like and Tripology which help travelers interested in exotic locales find travel agents with specialist knowledge that can tailor trips to specific interests and needs.

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