WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., April 30, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- 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, according to the J.D. Power 2014 Online Travel Agency Satisfaction ReportSM released today.
"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. "Online travel agencies need to provide a user-friendly Web experience to 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 report measures overall customer satisfaction with the purchase experience when buying a vacation package, flight, hotel or rental car using an online travel website. Seven factors are examined in the report (listed in order of importance): competitiveness of pricing; usefulness of information; availability of booking/reservation options; website/online store; ease of booking/reserving; competitiveness of sales and promotions; and contact with customer service.
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 Travelocity.com ranks highest with a score of 804, performing well in website/online store; usefulness of information; and competitiveness of sales and promotions. Following in the rankings is Expedia.com (798), performing well in the contact with customer service factor.
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.