Shatner from Priceline.comConsumers on travel sites had an overwhelmingly negative reaction to Facebook 'Like' buttons, seeing this as a unnecessary distraction, according to a travel usability study. 

The study from Usabilia used 800 participants and looked at the user experience on airline, hotel and travel comparison websites. 

Here are just a few highlights from the report, as well as a couple of infographics based on the data...

Facebook on travel sites

Social media can work very well on travel sites, but much depends on the context. For example, Hyatt links to its YouTube channel so users can see videos of hotel rooms and facilities before they book. 

The addition of reviews from sites like TripAdvisor can also be incredibly useful for consumers, and makes perfect sense for travel firms, as users are just going to head there anyway. 

However, the context is all important, and asking consumers to 'Like' a page during the search and booking process may not be the best approach. 

According to the report: 

Participants strongly disliked the buttons and stated they “really hate the pushy appearance of a company asking for an endorsement” or “begging” a user to ‘Like’ their company or brand without any benefit to the user. 

A better solution would be to include 'like' buttons in follow up emails or surveys. If customers have enjoyed their journey or the hotel, then they will be predisposed to hitting the button.

Also, some incentive such as a discount on future bookings may provide more of a reason for people to click. 

Finding boarding passes online

This is a task that should be easy for users to complete, and all airlines need to do is provide a clear link from the homepage. This was a 'one-click test'. 

The infographic below shows the time taken to find boarding passes on the various sites (click image for a larger version): 

Users were able to find the boarding pass (online check-in) link most easily and quickly on the Delta airlines website. All it takes is a nice clear link: 

Finding a boarding pass on the KLM website took longer: 

As the heatmap shows, several users failed to click the correct link. In fact, just 39% got the right link. The relative clutter of the KLM homepage compared to Delta's was one factor. 

What makes visitors trust a hotel website?

The study tested first impressions of a hotel website's homepage, and the elements which convey trust. The logo and the brand awareness was the top factor, cited by 48% of participants.  

This infographic shows the importance of factors like clean design and social media (click for larger version): 

Graham Charlton

Published 18 August, 2011 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is editor in chief at SaleCycle, and former editor at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (7)

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James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Hi Graham,

Thanks for the post. Interesting usability finding re the Like button. I have had many discussions with Clients around this subject because too few e-commerce teams measure the use and impact of these tools. The analytics isn't a perfect science but you need to know what's happening.

I'm not saying they are good/bad per se. That depends upon implementation and relevance as you point out. For me the same applies to product pages - first and foremost you have to give people the product info they need to make a decision. Sharing comes second. If the first thing people see is an array of share buttons but no product info and "Buy now", you're giving them the wrong impression of that page (in my humble opinion).

Has anyone got any convincing stats that demonstrate how visitors using the Like button have better engagement (time on site, page visits, search depth, conversion, repeat visits etc) than other visitors?


almost 7 years ago


Robert Gilmour

This does not surprise me one little bit. There is far far too much said about social media with absolutely no proof of concept, much of it relying on the 'self-fulfilling prophecy' variety. Non-travel social media like Facebook is a 'wannabe' in travel. Virtually none of my hotel clients say it makes the slightest bit of difference to their business and its success in any way, shape or form and I have been saying this from the day and hour Facebook began.

almost 7 years ago



There is no reason other than some financial incentive to “like” a hotel chain. So in essence the chain is paying people to like them. I highly doubt that having a lot of likes will raise your search engine ranking especially with Google and their +1 now being in direct competition with Facebook. I am still trying to figure out what benefit likes have for the promotion of the hotel industry. So after a marketer delivers X number of likes for their client what then? We are not talking about Justin Bieber or J.K. Rowling (author of Harry Potter) engaging their fans, this is a hotel corporation.

almost 7 years ago


Event Lover

It still have faith with facebook like button based on what i read they placed the FB like button on wrong place, instead of pushing their customer to like their business why don't let their client to have the decision to use the FB like button. eventually they will used it once they are satisfied with the service.

almost 7 years ago


SJR Luxuria

The like the facebook 'like' button...but in this case its placed in wrong place i guess..

almost 7 years ago


Peter Topping Cyan Digital

This is a great read. Regarding the facebook like button and google+.
Using addme or another social share platform gets around this issue.
It offers more choices of social media to the user and is perhaps seen as less "try hard". The code also doesnt slow heavy home pages that a few of us are stuck with.

Share is very different from like me, please like, oh please like me, on page one.

almost 7 years ago


Mike McLin

Did you mean "Like Boxes", not "Like Buttons"? Like Buttons are usually anything but intrusive. They serve a simple way for people to like the content on that page, and share it with their friends. Like Boxes on the other hand (which you have pictured in your article) serve as a way to Like (follow) a brand (via their Fanpage) on Facebook.

almost 7 years ago

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