The websites of low-cost airlines like Ryanair and Monarch are among the most difficult to use in the online travel sector, possibly leading to customers going elsewhere and jeopardising the recent push in online check-ins, according to a new study released today.
The 2009 Flights Online Report from user experience consultancy, Webcredible, revealed that Ryanair finished bottom of the study of 20 leading carrier and travel agent websites with a score of just 41 per cent, an improvement of just 1 per cent on last year.
Despite improving by 9 per cent and rising from 20th place last year, Monarch was joint 18th with Thomas Cook with a usability score of 47 per cent. In addition, both easyJet and Jet2 also scored 50 per cent or lower in the study.
The report also revealed that British Airways, Expedia and Virgin Atlantic offer their customers the best levels of usability in the online travel sector.
The British Airways website topped the study of with a score of 71 per cent, moving from 2nd to 1st with a rise of 6 per cent from last year. Expedia and Virgin Atlantic were the biggest movers improving their scores by 17 per cent and 15 per cent respectively from last year, to leave them in joint 2nd place with a usability score of 70 per cent.
After only achieving a worrying average usability score of 51.5 per cent last year, the 2009 report reveals that the vast majority carriers and travel agents have improved their website usability since last year giving an average score of 56.7 per cent.
However, there is still significant scope to improve across the board as usability can be a key driver of sales in the highly competitive online travel market. Key guidelines that still need improvement include displaying clear progress bars, clear identification of errors and providing information on airports.
Unlike last year the difference between the usability of travel agents and carriers is less clear with travel agents averaging 58.7 per cent and carriers averaging a score of 54.7 per cent, a difference of 4 per cent as opposed to 7 per cent last year.
This difference can be largely attributed to low cost airlines scoring poorly in the usability stakes.
Trenton Moss, Director at Webcredible comments, “Despite improving since last year, many travel companies are still not doing enough to ensure that their websites are easy to use for their customers.
"The online travel market is highly competitive with many companies offering the same flights and packages at similar prices, and if customers find one site difficult to use, they will often seek out a competitor.”
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