Occasionally a travel manager will get questioned about how long it takes to use online booking to plan and book a trip. A traveler may complain about response times or a manager may question why it takes so long for his people to plan their travel. The answer is complicated as there are many factors that can affect the process. Here we review the top 8 factors that may impact average booking times using an online tool.
- Technology. The connection from a traveler’s screen (either via mobile device or computer) to the server and back usually includes several stops. The speed of the device, the quality and speed of the Internet connection, web browser types – even the overall speed of the Internet itself can affect response times (yes, the Internet can be slow, especially in some countries). Booking tools must reach into the GDS, apply policies and compute a result. That can take some time, but usually way less than 30 seconds. GetThere over the past 5 years has worked relentlessly at speeding up the areas that we can control. We’re now faster than many online leisure travel sites – and corporate online competitors.
- Traveler Profiles. One of the best time-saving measures when booking travel is a fully completed traveler profile. System access to seat preferences, loyalty information, Secure Flight information, etc. removes a lot of the manual work from the shopping and booking process.
- Features. The various features of your booking tool that are turned on or off may affect the ability of your travelers to be efficient. Trips between your most traveled city pairs take just a few clicks to book using trip templates. In addition, GetThere’s Express Checkout introduces new booking accelerators that make the process even speedier.
- Personal preference. If price and class of service didn’t need to factor into the traveler’s decision, you would probably have much faster average booking times. Finding a flight that has window or aisle seats typically adds time. Travelers will often spend extra time trying to find ways to earn loyalty points. And what traveler going to an unknown city doesn’t check out the hotel photos or traveler reviews? Again, making sure the Traveler Profile is up to date can minimize time spent shopping for the “same thing” every time.
- Policy. You may be restricting access to content that travelers expect. Traveler education will minimize time spent searching for options you don’t allow them to access.
- Distractions and disruptions. While we can pull statistics from servers on average booking times, this is only part of the story. Interruptions are a reality that often increases time-per-session.
- Research versus transactions. Sometimes the booking tool is used to research costs, possible dates of travel, flight times, etc. No transaction is intended. That research time could easily sway the averages. Cancellations are usually quick activities and can also affect the reporting of averages.
- Inexperience. Road warriors who travel to the same place every month know how to quickly complete the booking. A marketing assistant who goes to one trade show annually may have to spend a little more time working with the booking tool and learning what is allowed by your travel policy.
GetThere puts all major functionality through a usability lab with actual end-users (customer and non-customer, road warriors and novice travelers, and travel arrangers) and works to continuously improve the user experience. In addition, we rely on technical tools, such as Foglight, to monitor system response times and actual session issues as they occur. We also invest in web monitoring tools from Keynote Systems to gauge system performance and speed of bookings through the entire process for indicative accounts – both with light policy and heavy policy controls.
In the past four years, GetThere has invested heavily in architecture changes that have improved page load times by 50%. New features also make it easy to quickly research (with visual queues like Hotel Notes and Labels, Green Hotels and Traveler Reviews), shop (Traveler Filtering, Enhanced Plus/Minus Days Shopping, Comparison Fares with Mixed Fares), and accelerate through the online experience (Auto Complete, Express Checkout).
Finally, GetThere’s mobile interface gives road warriors one of the speediest shopping and booking experiences in the industry – just three clicks to book a hotel in policy.
What is the average booking time? The answer is – it depends. Rather than just focusing on an immeasurable variable, GetThere is constantly innovating to give your travelers tools to improve efficiency. Send us your comments on this topic and we’ll share in future issues.