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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : April 28, 2009

Ryanair crashes to bottom of website usability survey

Ryanair, the Irish low-cost airline currently hitting the headlines for entertaining the possibility of a 'fat tax' on overweight passengers, has come bottom of Webcredible's latest annual Flights Online Report.

by Helen Leggatt

Online travel sales increased by 17% from 2007 to 2008 and reached approximately $76 billion in the European market in 2008. In addition, a 12% increase is expected in 2009 making the online channel increasingly crucial to a travel organization's business. However, a recent study found that many websites in the travel industry are found wonting when it comes to usability.

Webcredible's study of 20 of the U.K.'s leading carrier and travel agent websites' usability put Ryanair bottom of the pile with a score of just 41%. Monarch, which now languishes at joint 18th with Thomas Cook, scored 47%.

Overall, scores had improved on last year's with the average usability score up 5% to 56.7%. But, according to Webcredible, there is still a long way to go. The user experience research firm highlighted three key areas that require improvement:-

- Displaying clear progress bars,

- Clear identification of errors; and

- Airport information.

British Airways topped the ranking with a score of 71%, up from second place last year, while Expedia and Virgin Atlantic enjoyed joint second with 70%.

As consumers re-evaluate their financial priorities, competition for share of their travel budgets is heating up. Travel agents and carriers that want to attract travel dollars need to ensure their websites are easy to navigate, inspire confidence and are bountiful in airport, tax, surcharge and destination information.

This is particularly true now that consumers are being asked to undertake more of their travel procedures online. Ryanair, for instance, is removing all check-ins at airports from October this year, leaving only unmanned check-in kiosks and a luggage drop-off area.

"Despite improving since last year, many travel companies are still not doing enough to ensure that their websites are easy to use for their customers," said Trenton Moss, Director at Webcredible. "The online travel market is highly competitive with many companies offering the same flights and packages at similar prices, and if customers find one site difficult to use, they will often seek out a competitor."

The full 33-page report can be downloaded free from Webcredible's website.

Tags: airlines, carriers, Monarch, Ryanair, travel industry, U.K, Webcredible, website usability

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