Leading OTAs Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz have emerged as the winners in a study looking at how web travel brands perform for a string of important measurements in the world of ecommerce.
The research, conducted by Change Sciences, compared a number of travel websites (alongside brands in other verticals) for usability, influence, engagement and conversion.
Usability of travel websites
Below screen grab compares the user experience scores for travel websites to other sites in the Change Sciences dataset.
Usability is mapped on the x-axis, conversion in y-axis, and size of spheres in the graph shows the engagement score.
Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity are leading the game in travel websites, both in usability and conversion. But, notice the difference between this trio and other players like Priceline and Airbnb in the graph.
Usability vs Time-on-Task
Below screen grab shows how travel websites compare to another group of sites similar to travel websites (the lighter blue dots). This group consists of sites (similar to travel sites) that ask users to make selections from similar products based on a variety of factors.
Travel websites posses much greater variation for time on task. This graph brings out the opportunity for travel websites to improve ease of use overall, and to reduce the time it takes to complete a task.
Usability vs Engagement vs Conversion
Travel websites that are easier to use, are more likely to convert. In the graph below, concentration of conversion dots are higher for usability scores between 60 to 80.
The same holds good for travel websites that have higher engagement score. Concentration of conversion dots are higher for engagement scores between 45 to 65.
Usability issues faced
Below are top usability issues faced in travel websites. Sites that did not provide strong visual cues for user priorities such as pricing and the ability to filter by price or location were often rated as less usable.
Engagement by various user groups
Influencers - people who are most active on social media are most likely to read and write reviews, they are also 15% more likely to book a trip or hotel room.
Hold Outs - people who are least active on social media are least likely to be influenced by reviews, testimonials, and photographs.
Below screen grab gives an understanding about how different group of users behave on site.