Despite the amount of deals on offer, and the convenience of booking holidays online, many US internet users still prefer to book their travel over the phone, with perceived security problems the main reason cited.

Forrester Research polled over 5,000 US consumers in the last quarter of 2006 to find out the reasons for their reluctance to use the web for holiday reservations.

The main reasons cited were:

  • Concern over credit-card security – 16% of those surveyed were too concerned about security issues to enter their credit card details. Also, 32% of those who researched holidays online then booked offline did so due to card fraud concerns. Both these figures have increased since last year’s poll.
  • Website usability/performance issues – Frustration with online reservation systems was enough to put many travelers off online booking, with one in five citing this reason.
  • Limits on the actions they could take online – Some users get frustrated with the lack of flexibility on some online booking services, as they are unable to make specific requests, for a type of hotel room, or model of car. 25% of those surveyed were put off because of this.
  • Some prefer to be able to talk to someone when booking travel – A third of respondents said they simply preferred to talk to someone in person when booking their travel.
  • Consumers think they can negotiate a better price with an actual person – This is a strange perception, as holidays are generally much cheaper when booked online. Recent research from Holiday Which? showed that identical holidays could be booked online for almost £500 cheaper than the brochure price.

Many of the reasons why customer book offline are within the control of online travel firms – increased usability and flexibity in the booking process would go a long way towards solving this problem.

In addition, customers need to feel secure about paying online, so prominent display of third party verification logos, and links to further information and reassurance about security issues can help ease customer concerns.