Cross-channel ferry operator P&O is one of the most usable travel websites in the UK, according to a study of 18 leading sites, while the wooden spoon goes to Eurotunnel.

The eDigital Research Travel Benchmark report (registration required) surveyed mystery shoppers to provide ratings for first impressions, search, the booking process, and customer service.

Some highlights from the report:

P&O most usable travel site

P&O scored 86% in the study, with its clear booking process coming in for praise from customers:

P&O booking process

Different steps in the process are clearly labelled so that customers know how many steps they have to go through, going back to previous stages and mking alterations is easy to do, while security policies and other key information is provided throughout.

Also, a visible contact number provides an option for any customers having problems with their booking.

Eurotunnel not so good

With a score of just 68%, Eurotunnel came bottom by some distance, and looking at the website, it's not too hard to see why. Links are too small, the layout is confusing, and, while the get quote /book call to action button should leap out at visitors, it blends into the rest of the page and is easily missed.

The booking process is pretty poor too, with a very confusing layout, while forms are unnecessarily difficult to fill in, something which could be avoided by pre-populating certain fields and asking fewer questions:

Eurotunnel booking process

I also encountered this error page a couple of times when looking at the booking process, which doesn't inspire confidence: 

Customer services

When customers are spending large sums of money on booking journeys, it seems reasonable enough that companies should provide contact details that are easy to find, the option to call is provided, but some travel websites seem to go out of their way to avoid customer contact.

Telephone customer services

The bottom three for providing customer service by telephone were Ryanair, Cunard and EasyJet. Cunard doesn't want you to call them, and though there is a line for bookings, I couldn't find a customer service contact number.

We've covered Ryanair before, it's easier to find a fax number than a phone number, and naturally you will be charged 10p per minute to call them when you do eventually find the number.

EasyJet is the biggest culprit here though, because it doesn't have a contact number at all and instead routes customers searching for contact details through its FAQs section.

If customers require assistance or reassurance about the travel product they are about to buy, providing a clear contact number, as done by P&O, can be enough to convince customers to book the cruise.

Email contact options

If the query is less urgent, then some customers may prefer to email for information, but many of the sites failed to sent an email confirming that the query is being dealt with, and were slow to respond with assistance.

The bottom three, bmibaby, Ryanair, and Britanny Ferries, don't even provide email contact options.

While Britanny Ferries at least provides a standard rate contact number, bmibaby customers are forced to call an 0905 number which costs at least 65p per minute, which is pretty poor when you are wanting to spend money on a flight.

For more information on how to improve customer experience on travel websites, and examples of  best practice in the industry, see our Travel Website Benchmarks report.  

Graham Charlton

Published 24 July, 2009 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

You might be interested in

Comments (6)

Save or Cancel

Ambarish Mitra

I dont know how web sites like Ryanair made to this list and brilliant travel 2.0 sites like isango didnt.

almost 9 years ago



I can answer your question - the benchmark covers 18 airline, ferry and cruise companies therefore the focus is more on 'travel' providers rather than holiday providers.  We may be looking at holiday websites in September.

almost 9 years ago



I like travelling a lot and many a times I felt how good it will be to have a big list of all the good travel sites and hence I started collecting all the nice travel sites and articles (more than 220 sites) that will be very useful while planning for your trips. You have information about tickets, places, trip advisors, travel reviews, budget travel and many others.

almost 9 years ago


Manny Coulon, Director at

It might be the most useable site according to this study...but they've not done the basics and secured enough server capacity/bandwidth. The site has been unable to take online bookings all evening due to "high demand". On a Monday evening over a week into the summer hols, this is not overly impressive! Their main cross-Channel rials are all working fine.

almost 9 years ago



so the Euro tunnel did not work out?

almost 9 years ago



Very nice website I will study it & I carry your all suggestions hope so they all are good for my site.Thanks a lot for your tips.

almost 9 years ago

Save or Cancel

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Digital Pulse newsletter. You will receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.