Booking Trips Online Frustrating, Study Says
A new research study showing that consumers are increasingly frustrated with attempting to book travel plans online comes as no surprise to travel consultants with AAA Vacations of the Carolinas.
"It has never been easy for consumers to navigate the Web in planning and actually booking itineraries because of the complexity of terms, conditions and competing offers," said Claudia Collins, manager of the AAA Vacations office in Southern Pines. "The current state of the travel industry - with so many discounts and special offers - is making the online experience even more challenging for consumers attempting to find the best value on their own."
Forrester Research, a leading independent research company, reports that consumer satisfaction in booking online travel has dropped by 15 percent since 2007, a news release from AAA said. Only one in three U.S. online travelers believe that travel Web sites are doing a good job of presenting travel choices.
According to Forrester: "The (online) channel frustrates travelers by expecting them to know as much as travel agents, forcing them to navigate complicated clinical processes, rather than processes that provide inspiration. In exchange, travelers are inundated with mountains of options, often devoid of content.
"The end result: a confused, confounded, frustrated traveler struggling to identify which choice really represents the best value, a choice that may not necessarily equate to the lowest-priced option."
Since the late 1990s, travel Web sites have grown rapidly, attracting consumers who enjoy a sense of control and who expect to obtain lower pricing. The Forrester research indicates that a growing number of these same consumers are disenchanted and ready to turn to travel consultants for expert counsel.
"The Web is an incredibly powerful tool for researching your travel plans and exploring a wide variety of destinations," Collins said. "As consumers have learned, however, the actual booking process can be complex, particularly with so many competing offers and special conditions surrounding these offers. It can be extremely difficult for a consumer to choose with confidence."
AAA recommends using the Internet to research travel destinations.
AAA Vacations recently partnered with Triporati to create AAA Destination Discovery, an innovative new Web portal that allows consumers to identify travel destinations that are just right for their travel needs. On the Web at aaacarolinas.triporati.com, this service helps visitors discover great destinations based on their unique interests.
With a good idea of where you would like to travel, AAA recommends contacting a travel consultant to complete the research process and offer recommendations.
Unlike consumers who must review one travel site at a time, professional travel consultants have online systems that allow them to easily compare multiple opportunities for a given destination at the same time to determine the best opportunity.
"Consumers typically find that a travel consultant can book an itinerary at the same or even lower cost that they could do for themselves," Collins said. "The Internet opens up a world of information, but when it comes time to actually invest in your trip, a travel consultant can be invaluable in saving time, frustration and money."
More like this story