Travel Apps and Travel Websites in Continuous “Catch-Up” Mode
Survey finds apps and sites operated by legacy travel companies lag behind newer competitors in hotel, airline and rental car sectors
November 22, 2019
Apps and websites created by legacy hotel, airline and rental car brands are falling behind capabilities presented by online travel agencies (OTAs) and travel industry disruptors, such as Uber, Lyft and Airbnb. The 2019 J.D. Power U.S. Travel App Satisfaction Study and the 2019 U.S. Travel Website Satisfaction Study, both released in recent weeks, shows that all travel industry websites — even those operated by digital natives — score substantially lower in customer satisfaction than do high-scoring websites in other industries, such as credit cards.
“ Travel apps and websites have become primary conduits through which consumers experience travel, such as searching for a hotel, booking a rental car and getting real-time flight status updates,” says Michael Taylor, Travel Intelligence Lead at J.D. Power. “Given the crucial role they play, many travel apps and websites are still too complex for consumers to navigate and do not offer the most helpful information at the right time. One hotel website, for example, requires 29 separate actions across five different pages to make a reservation. That’s not good enough when customers are experiencing simple, elegant, seamless experiences in their banking and credit card apps and websites.”
• Travel apps lag far behind customer financial apps in satisfaction: Airline, online travel agency (OTA), hotel and rental car apps all trail highest-scoring credit card apps when it comes to overall customer satisfaction. But overall satisfaction with travel apps is lowest for airline apps, which scored 854 (on a 1,000-point scale). This compares with an average score of 872 for overall credit card customer satisfaction.
• Travel website performance lags: Similar to satisfaction with mobile apps, overall satisfaction with hotel, airline, rental car and OTA websites is substantially lower than those of credit card, banking and insurance industry websites. As an example, the average overall satisfaction score for rental car websites is 827, the lowest of all travel industry categories. This compares with a score of 863 for credit card websites.
• Speed and Simplicity Matter: Customer satisfaction with travel websites substantially increases when customers say the process of making a reservation was quicker than expected. Still, many travel websites contain multi-step processes and fewer than 20% of customers report a quicker-than-expected reservation experience.
• Helpfulness Notifications are Inconsistent: Helpful notifications provided by a travel app can add upwards of 92 points to overall satisfaction, but the challenge comes with the execution of those notifications. For example, including concise accompanying text such as “tap to view boarding pass” can be much more effective than simply sending an electronic boarding pass with no descriptive text.
• Delivery of Consistent Web and App Experiences: While digital native OTA brands tend to deliver the most satisfying website experiences and rental car brands tend to perform better in mobile apps, some top-performing airline, hotel and rental car companies have cracked the code on cross-platform digital satisfaction, delivering strong user experiences and high levels of customer satisfaction across both web and app channels.
Four segments of the travel industry were put under the scope: airline; hotel; OTA; and rental car. The key variables that seem to influence customer choice, satisfaction and loyalty are based on five factors: clarity of information provided; ease of navigation; overall appearance, speed of screens/pages loading; and range of services/activities.
The 2019 U.S. Travel App Satisfaction Study collected 12,410 evaluations from users of airline, hotel, OTA and rental car apps. The Travel Website Satisfaction Study looked at 13,424 evaluations from users of airline, hotel, OTA and rental car websites. Both studies were fielded in August-September 2019.
Travel App Rankings
JetBlue ranked highest in overall satisfaction among airline apps with a score of 872. FlyDelta (865) ranked second and Southwest (864) ranked third.
IHG ranked highest in overall customer satisfaction among hotel apps with a score of 870. Hilton Honors (866) ranked second and World of Hyatt (865) ranked third.
Orbitz ranked highest in overall customer satisfaction among OTA apps with a score of 870. Travelocity (867) ranked second and Expedia (856) ranked third.
Avis ranked highest in overall customer satisfaction among rental car apps with a score of 873. National (863) ranked second and Enterprise Car Rental (859) ranked third.
Travel Website Rankings
Southwest Airlines ranked highest in overall customer satisfaction among airline websites with a score of 849. Alaska Airlines (831) ranked second and JetBlue Airways (829) ranked third.
Choice Hotels ranked highest in overall customer satisfaction among hotel websites with a score of 841. Best Western Hotels & Resorts (840) and Hyatt Hotels (840) ranked second in a tie.
Booking.com ranked highest in overall customer satisfaction among OTA websites with a score of 847. Priceline (846) and Travelocity (846) ranked second in a tie.
National ranked highest in overall customer satisfaction among rental car websites with a score of 841. Enterprise (836) ranked second and Budget (827) ranked third