Sep. 15, 2011 at 8:38 AM ET
People dislike a lot of things about online travel sites — bad design, clunky navigation, slow load times, etc. — but according to new research, there’s one thing they really, really hate.
The Facebook “like” button can be a lot of fun among actual friends, but apparently annoys the heck out of people when abused by travel companies seeking to piggyback on their users’ social networks.
“The response to the Facebook ‘like’ button was overwhelmingly negative across the travel sector,” said Paul Veugen, CEO and founder of Usabilla, the Amsterdam-based company that conducted the study. “Participants stated that they ‘really hate the pushy appearance of a company asking for an endorsement’ or ‘begging me to like their company or brand.’ ”
To arrive at its findings, the company asked 800 web users to provide feedback on the design and ease of use of 18 travel-industry websites, including five hotel chains, eight airlines and five price-comparison sites.
Here’s a look at what users liked, rather than “liked”:
Hotels: Simple but professional design, outstanding copy and stunning imagery made users feel welcome. Sheraton scored well for providing readily accessible contact information, including a toll-free phone number; Hyatt, for allowing users to access its YouTube channel direct from the homepage.
Airlines: Websites were assessed on the ease of printing a boarding pass and on what users thought could be improved. Users found Delta's site the most user-friendly — 67 percent correctly determined where to click to print their boarding pass vs. 38 percent for Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines. Lufthansa and American annoyed users by posting prices with asterisks that didn’t include all taxes and fees.
Price-comparison sites: Participants appreciated the promotional content on Expedia but not the Groupon Getaways connection; the PayPal integration on BookIt but not the internal advertising; and Travelocity’s traveling gnome but not Priceline spokes-negotiator William Shatner. (Sorry, Bill.)
But even Capt. Kirk fared better than Mark Zuckerberg and company, which drew comments such as “I hate hate hate the Facebook button” and “I am here to book a trip, not to market this company on Facebook.”
To which we can only add, where’s that “dislike” button when you need it?
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Rob Lovitt is a longtime travel writer who still believes the journey is as important as the destination. Follow him at Twitter.