A couple of years ago I decided to finally try using an online travel search engine to book a flight (Ok, I’m not an early adopter!).
I figured the travel search sites would all have similar rates and list flights from essentially the same airlines, so I just wanted the easiest one to use.
I compared the travel search engines to find the easiest one to use
I had a particular place I needed to go for business and knew what dates I wanted to fly. So I spent a little time trying each of about five major travel search sites, one after another, looking for the easiest one to use – The easiest to enter my travel dates, my destination, any options, and then compare and choose from among the results. I tried Expedia, Orbtiz, Travelocity and one or two others.
So for about 30 to 45 minutes, I checked each engine, one after the other, until there was one clear winner – Travelocity. To me Travelocity was the easiest system to use.
So I signed up and booked my flights.
That was about two years ago. I use Travelocity for almost everything related to travel now, not just flights, but hotels without flights and car rentals. I use it for vacation ideas. I’ve even shown Travelocity to a couple of friends and relatives and some of them use it now.
Over the years I’ve learned more and more, little by little about how to use features in the Travelocity system. For, example, they have a My Account feature (they call it My Stuff) that lets me login, save search results for later (it was a while before I figured this one out), and book travel quickly. I can see the details of upcoming trips and past trips, make changes, etc. “Sticky” features like this ensure that I’ll keep using Travelocity, that I’ll keep coming back.
Here’s the point – It was the ease of use (Usability) of Travelocity’s travel search engine that got me. And now I’m theirs. They’ve got me! Unless they do something to seriously screw up the system and make it difficult to use, or change it so extensively that it’s like learning a new system, or do something to get me really mad at them, I’m not likely to change now.
There could very well be another travel search engine site that’s far easier to use, with even more benefits, but they’re going to have a very hard time getting me to even look at it. I occasionally get emails from the competition which I don’t even open. I just delete them. I’m too busy and Travelocity is just fine.
PS – I got a message from Travelocity a couple of weeks ago. I’m now a Travelocity VIP! I have no idea what that means or what it does for me because I haven’t had the time to check, but I will. It’s undoubtedly some type of loyalty program that will give me some new benefits that will help make sure I stay a loyal customer.
Whenever the assumption is that the pricing is farily competitive between competitors, the importance of the user experience escalates acrosss all types of site users (personas), from price shoppers to those who are using an expense account or corporate money.
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