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Usability research into travel websites, undertaken by Zendor, the interactive and fulfilment expert, has found that the majority of travel websites forget the customer and their enquiry when they revisit a site after an initial visit. By exhibiting ‘amnesia’ these sites are creating significant barriers to customer sales.

Of the websites researched, 60% of the top travel sites and 70% of the top travel insurance sites did not provide any facility to remember the customer and their flight, holiday or insurance choices once they had left the site.

Zendor’s findings indicate that customers are more likely to return to and purchase from a website that remembers the customer’s product enquiry details. Websites that do not provide this functionality, and just as importantly fail to let their customers know about it, will lose sales, as customers become frustrated when they have to start the sales process all over again.

The importance of websites having a ‘memory’ becomes clear when a prospect’s journey through a website is analysed. Zendor identified that potential customers fall into three groups – the browser who wants to obtain a broad understanding of the offering, the evaluator who wants to compare the details of different product offerings to see if it satisfies their needs, and the transactor who knows exactly what to buy and wants to purchase it there and then.

Whilst journeying through the site, potential customers are converted from one group to another as their needs and motivations change. Therefore a website’s success relies upon responding to the needs of these different groups. For example, Zendor found that with travel insurance websites less than 10% of customers bought first time even when offered the best price for their circumstances. In the other 90% of cases, an evaluator will leave the site after obtaining a full quotation to investigate details from competitor sites. After comparing the offerings from a number of sites, the evaluator will return to the one site where the price is right. At this point, as a transactor wanting to make a purchase, the site that remembers the customer and product details will make a sale, and an ‘amnesiac’ site will not.

Following its research, Zendor has compiled a list of recommendations for travel companies on how to better accommodate customers’ online shopping needs. These include:
• Recognise that customers will look at a number of websites before making a purchase;
• Ensure customers are provided with all the necessary information to make a purchase decision; and
• Provide routes that allow customers to easily and quickly return to their product/quote information to make their purchase.

In addition, Zendor provides a selection of ’memory aids’ that travel companies may wish to consider implementing to improve customers’ online shopping experiences:

• Email quote/product detail with a link directly to the start of the purchase process;
• ‘Save’ functionality which does not require registration or any collection of personal information such as telephone number;
• Baskets that do not get emptied between sessions;
• Wish lists and short lists, which allow customers to save products/services for later; and
• Product detail print friendly options that allow information to be taken away and compared.

-ENDS-
For further press information please contact: Liz Ebbrell The Scott Partnership, The Old Barn, Holly House Estate, Cranage, Middlewich, Cheshire CW10 9LT Tel: 01606 837787 Fax: 01606 837757 e-mail: pr@scottmail.co.uk

Notes to Editor
Zendor provides a range of interactive services including web development, web usability and web accessibility services as part of its end-to-end fulfilment package. Zendor’s clients include dabs.com, Sony Computer Entertainment UK, Lloyds TSB Screentrade, Bon Marche, River Island, Early Learning Centre and Stanley Leisure. For further information on Zendor’s services, please call 0161 237 4900, email curious@zendor.com or visit www.zendor.com

Published on: 12:00AM on 7th January 2004