While price continues to be an important factor driving customer satisfaction with online travel agencies, the highest-performing agencies excel by providing a superior website/online store experience, with clear layout and design, ease of navigation and useful information.
The study, the J.D. Power 2014 Online Travel Agency Satisfaction Report released in April, contends that where price had been the key driver, now other factors count as well.
“In today’s competitive market, offering a low price is a necessity but does not automatically ensure customer satisfaction,” said Rick Garlick, global travel and hospitality practice lead at J.D. Power. “User-friendly Web experiences must meet customer expectations. If the site does not function well or provide the kind of information customers expect, they will either move on to a competitor’s website or phone the agency’s call center, costing the agency time and money.”
The study measured overall customer satisfaction with the purchase experience for consumers who bought a vacation package, flight, hotel or rental car using an online travel website. Seven key factors were scrutinized:
-competitiveness of pricing
-usefulness of information
-availability of booking/reservation options
-ease of booking/reserving
-competitiveness of sales and promotions
-contact with customer service.
Top Results for OTA Satisfaction
- Overall customer satisfaction with online travel agencies is 788 (on a 1,000-point scale).
- The primary reasons customers book/reserve/purchase from an online travel agency website are price (66%); past experience with the brand (44%); brand reputation (22%); and positive reviews of the brand (website, article, blog, etc.) (19%).
- The highest percentage of customers visiting online travel websites book hotels (58%); followed by flight reservations (52%); vacation packages (33%); and rental cars (31%).
- High levels of satisfaction translate into higher repurchase rates. Customers who rate overall satisfaction as outstanding (10 on a 10-point scale) purchase from an online travel website 4.4 times per year, compared with 3.1 times among those who rate their satisfaction as average.
- Problem resolution has a substantial impact on customer satisfaction. Generally, customers use online travel sites because they involve an inexpensive, low contact process. When problems occur and they are resolved quickly, customers are surprised and respond positively. Nearly one-fifth (18%) of customers indicate they had a problem booking reservations online. Not surprisingly, satisfaction among these customers (754) is 44 points lower than among those who don’t experience problems. However, when problems can be resolved quickly via website, satisfaction can be salvaged, improving to 780 when problems are resolved from 634 when they remain unresolved. Online travel sites able to resolve customer problems will likely reap the benefit of product differentiation.
Online Travel Agency Satisfaction Rankings
|Customer Satisfaction Index Scores|
|(Based on a 1,000-point scale)|
The 2014 Online Travel Agency Satisfaction Report is based on responses from 2,673 customers who made an online purchase from an independent travel website during the past 12 months. The study was fielded from March 11, 2014, through March 31, 2014.