10 things that annoy me when booking holidays online

4 04 2008

Today I read a great post on Travelrants called Ten things that annoy me about booking holidays online. Darren made a list of 10 things that annoy him while booking holidays online.

It’s clearly the kind of feedback/information people that work for Online Travel Agencies or Hotel Portals would love to gather from their visitors. That’s why I have decided to add my 2 cent and make my own list of things that really annoy me while booking online. Hopefully other bloggers will continue the discussion and post their own list on their blog! That would be VERY interesting!

Annoyed traveler

Here goes my list:

  • Being obligated to create a member account before I can get all the details of a (potential) booking.
  • Searching for hours for the cancellation fees of a hotel before I complete a booking.
  • Not knowing the total price of a booking before I filled out any personal information.
  • Not being able to use a booking engine with Firefox!
  • Promotions that never match my holidays periods.
  • Getting an expired sessions of a search when being idle for a short period of time.
  • Chosing to book a flight, filling out ALL the personal information asked (including credit card number) and getting an error message saying it’s not available anymore (but still offered and listed on-site and on all travel meta search engines).
  • Browsing a little deeper to know the services a hotel is offering, and not being able to get back to the result page I came from.
  • Picking an available hotel room, and discovering that was not a real time displayed availability and that an email that has been sent to the hotelier, who replies room is not available anymore for this period of the year.
  • Having to query availability/rates twice. Once for displaying the system cache of available hotels of the site, and another time for confirming the hotel is really available at that rate!

That’s my list, I hope travel bloggers will follow that “10 annoying things” thread and add their personal opinions. If you do so please add a trackback to this post so we can follow you.

Professionals are, of course, invited to comment my list.

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49 responses to “10 things that annoy me when booking holidays online”

4 04 2008
Ten things that annoy me about booking holidays online - Holiday Planning & Travel Guide (17:39:28) :

[...] Blog on Travel Wandalust Similar Posts: Hidden cost of ‘cheap’ holiday deals [...]

10 04 2008
Matt (16:35:21) :

Hey,

I like your site. Lots of good information…..I subcribed to your feed…

Feel free to come check out mine. http://www.nomadicmatt.com

cheers!

10 04 2008
Sylvain (16:44:27) :

@Matt: Thank you for your words. I’ll definitely check your website tonight!

10 04 2008
Sylvain (16:49:46) :

@Matt: That would be great if you could follow up this post on your blog, this way you will share with Darren and I what’s annoying YOU when booking online. What do you think?

10 04 2008
Eric (20:13:45) :

Great list, I’ve found that booking travel on http://travel.halogenguides.com Halogen Guides Travel is pretty painless.

11 04 2008
Cosas que me molestan al reservar viajes por internet « Buenos Viajes (10:32:44) :

[...] on Abril 11, 2008. En ingles se esta expandiendo por internet un tema relacionado con las cosas que nos molestan al realizar la [...]

11 04 2008
Sylvain (18:13:14) :

@Eric: I understand you might love the company you work for, but your comment doesn’t look like very objective unless you add a few concrete facts that explain how painless it is to book on that website! ;) (Otherwise it might be considered as a spam comment..)

11 04 2008
Fendi boutique hotel, Venice discount restaurant, China hotels condoms | Venere Travel Blog (18:38:32) :

[...] Blog On Travel find out 10 things that annoy travelers while booking a vacation online. Fortunately, making a [...]

21 04 2008
Debo Hobo (19:04:31) :

Another one is the seat you selected online is not really the seat you get in real life.

21 04 2008
Eric (19:29:55) :

@Sylvain – To your first point on the list, the site doesn’t require a member account to get all the potential details on the booking, even though the site aggregates travel packages in the same vein as Kayak.

24 04 2008
25 04 2008
Qtour Your Personal Traveller (10:55:36) :

is very interesting what they write, also accepted by us for our site or at least we try. is in the process of working but we hope can become a good reference site for bloggers travelers worldwide. Hello, thanks for your suggestions. http://www.qtour.it

25 04 2008
Sylvain (12:26:17) :

@Qtour: Hello. Thanks for passing by. I’m pleased to know that my list may have helped you to improve your site! See you around.

25 04 2008
Qtour Your Personal Traveller (15:17:28) :

Many thanks, i hope to came in my site and i wait your comment , is very important for me .

11 05 2008
Gareth (19:38:39) :

Hi Sylvain

Thanks for a great post – found it via a link from another travel blog. But have now added you to my list of feeds. Definately the kind of thing we would love to get from our users. What do you think would be the best way to get this kind of info from your users?

We’re about to do some usability testing – so I’m reading on up on how best to do this. I think the overall rule is stand near them and keep quiet :)

Cheers – Gareth

23 05 2008
Jeff (14:44:36) :

-Moderated comment-

23 05 2008
Phil (16:18:47) :

The failure to offer realtime bookings or information is a real nightmare. I booked a hoiday with onthebeach, a UK travel agency. My room was bumped a few days before Christmas for a New Years Eve holiday. I was told to find an alternative hotel on their website “because they are a web business”. I wasted ages doing this. Then had to phone to confirm and was told I had basically wasted my time – their web site was nt updated and the hottel I found available on their web site wasnt!. The only thing worse than using their website was dealing with them over the phone!

Maybe an eleventh worst thing about online bookings is when they are an excuse for dreadful person to person customer service – this was my experience with these guys.

14 07 2008
Hemant Khandekar (10:37:09) :

Well its really seems annoying. Although i hav’nt visited many of the sites like these but still from some of them,it really make difference.

14 07 2008
Syl (10:40:43) :

Hi Hemant: What makes a difference?

16 07 2008
Luciana (00:49:13) :

Hi! I am a reader of your blog. I created my own. If you want to visit it, my blog is: http://www.turisteca.blogspot.com
Bye!
Luciana

25 07 2008
Alex Ander (00:28:04) :

Really hot-silly things you’ve listed. Most of all I hate registering for getting more info. And hidden fees also.

Offtop: thanks search, I’ve found finally good travel industry blog!

30 07 2008
Jaal (16:57:03) :

Differentiation in Rates based on Nationality … is an issue for Online Travel Portal / Systems !!!!

For Nationality making reservation online from portal which are not allowed to make reservation for them or based on difference in rates as per Nationality of Booker,

I will seek your reply and suggestions on my below queries / comments :
1) If the entire transaction would have been different, I mean if a Indian client had bought a Hotel on Middle East Market Rates (higher then Asian), than would the hotel have refunded them money on check out ???
2) How do we control reservation, if a foreign national working in India books his vacation through an Indian Travel Portal (having Indian credit card) ????
3) How do we control reservation of Indian Corporate booking their employee or consultant, who is working in India but is a Foreign national through their regular travel agent in India ???? Since, company has to make payments, they will book through their regular contracted travel agent only, than in such case who needs to pay the difference ???

How do we control / avoid such reservation ????

1 08 2008
Jack (14:37:07) :

I know it’s hard to find specials during the Holidays, I find the best times are a month or 2 after school starts.

5 08 2008
Tana (05:10:55) :

Hi, Sylvain!

I was wondering about #4, “Not being able to use a booking engine with Firefox!”
What do you mean? Booking engines that don’t look good or function properly on firefox? Or are you thinking about some kind of search engine that could be integrated to your browser -just like those from Amazon, eBay, etc?

Excellent blog!

Cheers from Buenos Aires!

Tana

5 08 2008
Syl (10:29:53) :

@Tana: Hi there. It simply means that there are still websites that use query forms, calendars, booking engines, that are not fully compatible with firefox. A classic: You cannot choose your dates from the calendar because you use firefox. Now that FF recently broke a world record of downloads, there has been enough buzz to remind to every webmasters (and every deciders) that websites should designed for FF too.

@Jaal: Interesting issue about websites selling at different rates according to the origin of the client. I did not know it is a current practice in India. Does it mean that an Indian b2c site will recognize the client according to its IP and will show a different price because of its IP being outside of India?

@Alex Ander: Thank you.

8 08 2008
Pokin (03:59:03) :

Great list! I really hate the timeout issue. That’s happened so many times when I’ve put in all my details, flight times, picked seats and all of that stuff then I hit submit and the thing times out. AARRGH!

The other one that bugs me a lot is when you get an email with an advertised price – $99 or something and I have yet to ever be able to figure out how to create an itinerary that even close to that low fare. If that at least give you something that can be used as a starting point. Throw your customers a bone!

19 08 2008
Travel Advisor (10:48:52) :

Comment has been moderated.

6 09 2008
Graham (01:10:07) :

time outs would be a security issue. Availability depends on how many booking agents the allotment is offered too. Blame the gds

21 10 2008
Eugene (10:02:16) :

I am looking for some idea and stumble upon your posting :) decide to wish you Thanks. Eugene

22 10 2008
Jim Clark (18:34:24) :

Thanks for the list, useful, holidays are more stress than relaxing thats the problem these days!

28 10 2008
Vacation Rentals (07:31:01) :

The issues that you have described are mostly technical. Currently these booking engines don’t do much to update their system before they get the final confirmation of booking. they have lot of affiliates that generate sales for them and to update all that information in runtime cannot simple for all the travel related websites out there as they don’t have the infrastructure.

5 12 2008
Cabo Hotels (22:34:44) :

Well this list is quite completely. I utterly agree with almost all of these annoyances listed, especially having to create an account for all those travel sites before you can go on. Gah. Losing a low far because it suddenly becomes unavailable is probably just the nature of online booking but I really bet that they do this on purpose sometimes. the old bait and switch! haha

Great blog! Keep it up :)

12 01 2009
TravelGator (20:24:58) :

A great list! Reads like a user experience check list for designing a travel website. Worth bookmarking for anyone who is designing a travel site.

27 01 2009
Alexia Nestora (02:58:05) :

Reading the post made me relive all my horrible online booking experiences, grrr… i hate it when teh web tech geeks get to decide how a website works and not usability folks that think of the customer.

I have to add my other pet peeve with online booking, when a site advertises on the landing page a special deal and you click the link and cannot figure out how to book the deal, all of a sudden prices doubled just by clicking a link!!

Love the posts, keep it up!

29 01 2009
Scottish cottages (12:44:58) :

i don’t like booking when i don’t see clearly the pictures of rooms and also very often pets are not allowed, it should be said at the beginning of a booking process

23 02 2009
See Your Hotel's Blog (21:12:10) :

Top 4 Reasons I Hate Travel Meta-Search…

First let me state clearly which site I describe as Travel Meta-Search, Kayak or Mobissimo. Those site are great to find bargains, I mostly use them for airplane tickets. It would be more precise to say I try to use them for airplane tickets.
First rea…

10 05 2009
sinbad (09:37:19) :

Another annoyance: very low prices offered on the front page that magically grow to possibly a hundred times that before you cancel and go looking elsewhere.

17 05 2009
Solo Traveler (15:49:50) :

Man have you nailed it. I’ve got to be really interested to create a member account. Usually I just bounce outta there.

22 06 2009
Get A Trip.com (10:48:13) :

Most excellent this post. I had no idea there were so many issues like this to consider. We are currently in web development trying to make the most user friendly travel site availabe, but obviously there is “more” to consider. We are definitely going to use your list and Darren’s list as a “fix” list. I think unless the travel companies read gripes like these they remain clueless – I would have.

2 01 2010
Vinay (05:02:26) :

I read with interest, the various posts in your blog. I found that, all these things happen rarely, I mean once in a blue moon. Being a travel specialist myself for so many years, please allow me to place my points:

1. Refrain from booking with the sites which where you have to create a user account.

2. Don’t even look at sites, where all inclusive rates are not displayed and contain hidden cost. This means they are trying to fool you and wasting your time and money.
3. Good sites always display all inclusive cost of the hotel rooms.

4. You won’t get promotional offers during holiday periods. Promotion is made only on lean periods.

5. All the above points you have mentioned in your blog pertains to amateur site, it can’t be a professional one.

6. Hotel rates are a very tricky business. But make sure when you find a good price book the lowest one immediately, tomorrow, you won’t get that price.

18 01 2010
Justin Wright (22:42:52) :

Yeah I can’t stand it when you fill out all the information and then the session either times out or expires. I remember using a site awhile back that kept timing out in only a few seconds. By the time I got up to go grab my card it had already restarted it…grr

12 03 2010
Georgia (07:20:51) :

Great list! Down here in Australia it is now a law that all taxes and booking fees must be included in advertised price. Works well and saves a lot of wasted time. Thanks

18 06 2010
Jelly belly (07:14:46) :

i hate it when you’ve already planned the dates that you want and when you get online, it’s not available. that was the case during our trip last time.

27 08 2010
Liam Bennett - Travel Developer (01:34:08) :

I have been working with travel sites for about 4 years now, but I can understand technical reasons why.

Being obligated to create a member account before I can get all the details of a (potential) booking.

This is to gather customer information for marketing reasons, but is by no mean obligatory and is down to the individual business.

Searching for hours for the cancellation fees of a hotel before I complete a booking.

Not sure why travel agencies wouldn’t like to show this information

Not knowing the total price of a booking before I filled out any personal information.

Now there is a good reason for this, airline, hoteliers what ever, can have different offers and pricing for children mainly so prices can’t be confirmed until dates of birth have been entered as each business classifies rate differently,

Not being able to use a booking engine with Firefox!

This shouldn’t be a problem, if travel agencies value there website frontend, 99% of browsers should work, but again other business contraints can come into this, budget for one.

Promotions that never match my holidays periods.

This is not limited to online travel booking

Getting an expired sessions of a search when being idle for a short period of time.

As prices/availability change all the time it is most probably a good thing that this timesout happens, as prices/availability may have changed, security should only really come into it after personal information has been entered

Chosing to book a flight, filling out ALL the personal information asked (including credit card number) and getting an error message saying it’s not available anymore (but still offered and listed on-site and on all travel meta search engines).

Each site may have it own cache as it not possible for all pricing to be live all the time, due to the millions if not billions of queries. Meta search engine may only be updated every hours or less because these are only marketing gateways to sellers of travel products.

Browsing a little deeper to know the services a hotel is offering, and not being able to get back to the result page I came from.

Page flow not thought out correctly

Picking an available hotel room, and discovering that was not a real time displayed availability and that an email that has been sent to the hotelier, who replies room is not available anymore for this period of the year.

Not all accommodation have live availability, is your nearest (non chain) hotel available to book online (through travel agency resellers).

Having to query availability/rates twice. Once for displaying the system cache of available hotels of the site, and another time for confirming the hotel is really available at that rate!

Because pricing is so complicated and there are billions of combinations of pricing it needs to be cached, if it wasn’t people would moan about page load times then.

All my comments are purely from my perpective of making these travel sites, but I do agree there are many annoynces and complications in online travel which reduces usability. A travel agencies site will only be as good as it’s supplier functionality, developers and budget.

Thanks
Liam

15 10 2010
ilham ali (18:51:35) :

I have experienced almost all of them, a realistic list!
This should be a check list for any travel booking website for offering less annoying online services.

26 03 2011
danny g (17:59:24) :

Hi , regarding the booking in real time! the problem is when a hotel has 20 odd 3rd party agencies working then things sometimes become beyond the control of the hotelier and is very difficult especially is the destination is seasonal!
Danny

2 04 2011
Elisa Carballo (21:04:28) :

Hi! Reading through your article just made me think back at all those awful time consuming experiences when booking online! They are totally right, personally what irritates me the most is the fact that is you take a couple of seconds to think or your away from the site for less than a minute, then you have to start all over again and fill everything all over again! My goodness it is annoying! Anyways, greaat blog!
:)

23 11 2012
Alicia (19:48:46) :

Would always prefer to book by phone even if it meant paying a bit extra.

23 01 2013
Renate (14:56:12) :

Was very interesting to read your list. You have absolutely right, there often something goes wrong. Luckily, I haven`t experienced online booking problems so far. From other side booking online saves you a lot of time.

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