Long gone are the days of going to your local travel agents and browsing through glossy brochures to choose which holiday you wanted. The digital age has made it quick and easy to compare hotels and flights around the world at the click of a button. Whether you are comparing through apps or websites, your perfect holiday is just a pebbles through away. 53% of UK consumers now browse and purchase holidays online (BDRC Continental, 2014), but which comparison features do consumers really want?
Okay so no surprise there; consumers want to know how much they will be spending. A recent study reveals that 29% of consumers find travel websites difficult to use and unclear pricing is the main reason why a purchase would be abandoned. Travel comparison companies should therefore make price the most important detail to show.
So we know that pictures can tell 1000 words but according to Sibley (2012) 67% of customers say that a good quality image is more important than a long description and 53% of people even believe that a quality picture is more important that ratings and reviews. Travel Supermarket has a great comparison feature, which allows customers to expand hotels without leaving the search page.
Research shows that when using Price Comparison Websites (PCW) consumers have a tendency to see “what if?” by adding on additional products, for example, seeing what the price would be if they went all inclusive or for 10 days rather than 7. This consumer behaviour often results in a low price product becoming a higher price. Holiday comparison companies should be aware that if they make these features user friendly and clear, there could be financial reward.
According to Feefo (2016), an independent review website, around 75% of consumers now expect to be able to leave a review for hotels and restaurants they have visited. Justine Reid, former head of digital and social media at Visit Britain and, since September, 2014, head of sales at TripAdvisor says “It has moved away from the traditional star-rating scheme: now there are more individual reviews, which is good for the consumer”.
But just because consumers want to leave reviews, do they listen to them?
Well yes, 83% of holiday shoppers are influenced by reviews and around half would not book onto a holiday without there being reviews for the hotel. Interestingly, around 75% of consumers are more likely to trust a hotel if it has both good and bad reviews.
Trip advisors 2016 strategy (Trip advisor, 2015) is to raise sales (so people use the site to book not just research) by 10%. Given this new strategy Trip Advisor may be less inclined to allow their reviews on competitors website, such as On The Beach (image below). 10 tips to market your hotel on Trip Advisor
Source – On the Beach (2016)
Other ways holiday comparison websites can get a good range of reviews on their hotels is by creating thier own system that takes rating scores from a range of sources across the web and uses an algorithm to aggregate them, providing a dependable and impartial score. Trivago have developed a comprehensive rating index that use 227,564,076 reviews from 34 different websites (See below).
Source – Trivago (2016)
These systems can come with a price, is it worth it?
According to BDRC continental (2014) social media and review sites are far more likely to influence the consumers buying choice than the holiday comparison website. This statistic therefore proves that holiday comparison companies should make the investment to get reviews onto their sites.
Source – BDRC Continental (2014)
So what else do consumers want?
In the FCA (2014) study of price comparison websites, they found that consumers do not want to see the small amount of additional information when you scroll over a product, as they would instead like to research the purchase in more detail. The study also found that a selection of cautious consumers will seek reassurance from the company before buying the holiday online. Minimising this risk on your digital platform by using reassuring messaging (for example, ATOL protected etc) will reduce the amount of time spent on customer service calls.
The FCA study also showed that many customers completely missed the additional filter option but when questioned said this would have been a very beneficial feature. Holiday comparison companies should therefore ensure that any filter options should be noticeable and easily accessible.
So there you have it, consumers want to be able to see crucial details of the trip (For example, price) along with a selection of pictures and add ons. The most important feature for holiday comparison companies to have is customer reviews. With the added risk of trip advisors 2016 strategy of upping sales, holiday comparison websites must ensure they are being competitive as well as giving consumers what they want.
BDRC Continental (2014) Holiday Trends 2014 [Online] Available at < http://mediafiles.thedms.co.uk/Publication/ee-nor/cms/pdf/BDRC%20Continental%20Holiday%20Trends%202014%20Report.pdf> [Accessed 08 April 2016]
FCA (2014) Price Comparison Website: Consumer Market Research [Online] Available at < https://www.fca.org.uk/static/documents/research/price-comparison-website-consumer-research.pdf> [Accessed 08 April 2016]
Feefo, (2016) [Turning Feedback into Customers [Online] Available at < https://www.feefo.com/documentation/Turning_Feedback_into_Customers_whitepaper.pdf >
On the Beach (2016) Home Page. [Online] Available at < https://www.onthebeach.co.uk/> [accessed 08 April 2016]
Sibley, A. (2012). 19 Reasons You Should Include Visual Content in Your Marketing. [online] < http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33423/19-Reasons-You-Should-Include-Visual-Content-in-Your-Marketing-Data.aspx.> [accessed January 20 2016]
Travel supermarket (2016) Search Results. [Online] Available at < https://www.travelsupermarket.com/en-gb/holidays/results/5310a3fa823ab0522c0a32d4/528cbf37e4b0ec1df50a4897/2016-05-16/7/?room=A2> [Accessed 08 April 2016]
Trip advisor (2015) 2015 Annual Repot. [online] Available at <http://ir.tripadvisor.com/annuals.cfm> [accessed 04 April 2016]
Trivago (2016) Search results. [Online] Available at < http://www.trivago.co.uk/?aDateRange[arr]=2016-05-22&aDateRange[dep]=2016-05-23&r=&cpt=4158603&iRoomType=7&aPriceRange[from]=0&aPriceRange[to]=0&iPathId=41586&iViewType=0&bIsSeoPage=false&bIsSitemap=false&> [Accessed 08 April 2016]