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Hotel search design & usability

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Report summary

Search is a basic feature of a hotel-reservation website. It should allow users to locate hotels that match their requirements with clear yet powerful functionality.

In January 2003 Elizabeth Peaslee, VP for Customer Experience at Travelocity, made the economic case in an interview published by GoodExperience.com. She said that when Travelocity altered its search functionality from a system based on IATA city codes to a clearer method, online hotel bookings rose by 25% in one month.

If users can't achieve their goals efficiently, their subjective satisfaction of the quality of the website is reduced. It's one more factor governing the retention of customers in a competitive marketplace.

The report analyses searches:

  • for a particular hotel
  • for a range of hotels within a defined region (such as an island, a state etc)
  • for a range of hotels within a defined city, town or destination

The report suggests 34 design guidelines defining best industry practice for hotel search functionality design.

Key findings

Major problems include sites only offering a city search, when leisure travellers are often looking for tourist regions, such as the Algarve or Florida; search functionality that is not consistent across websites causing user errors due to expectations on how search will work, and insufficient information for users to correct mistakes once errors occur.

Contents

The report includes analysis of the following aspects of search functionality:

  • Top destination shortcuts
  • Map based searches
  • Search scope - such as hotel amenities and city districts
  • Handling & minimising the impact of user errors

The report also includes all the results from a 12 user usability test, involving the following websites:

  • Expedia.co.uk
  • Lastminute.com
  • OnlineTravel.com
  • Opodo.co.uk
  • Travelocity.com

and...

  • 34 design guidelines - defining best industry practice for hotel search design
  • A functionality evaluation of 52 websites (16 travel agencies, 36 hotel booking agencies)
  • Usability testing tasks - all the tasks used in the usability tests

Who should read this report?

  • Hotel groups or agencies who create their own bespoke booking engines or websites
  • Travel distribution companies, such as GDSs (Global Distribution Systems), with online booking-engine products
  • Other companies, such as web design agencies, with an interest in online hotel reservations

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PDF Download report
FREE
49 pages PDF format
Immediate download (1.2MB PDF)

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