Online travel websites are delivering inadequate customer service, according to recent research.

The survey by Edigitalresearch revealed that airline websites don’t answer more than half of all email enquiries, with hotels and online travel providers also performing badly.

Some 43 out of the 47 websites reviewed ranked low on customer service scores, falling under “satisfactory”, “poor” or “very poor” categories.

While many websites ranked high on initial travel searches, with people able to search by budget, timeframe or destination and get detailed information about their chosen destination, consumers were later let down by a lack of support.

According to Lloyd Viney, associate director of eDigitalResearch, said it is vital that the travel sector addresses the online customer journey, as this is where more business can be won.

“More online travel sites are looking to reduce traffic through their customer service departments by increasing the amount of information they put on their websites,” he said

But, people tend to rely on customer service contact to give them confidence in the booking process. “A poor experience here will ultimately result in customers retracting their business.”

Viney called for travel brands to use their websites to better engage with consumers.

“Leading retailers are increasingly involving the customer more through online polls, forums, mini-communities and product ratings. Travel brands need to mirror this approach by developing more interactive websites,” he said.

Premier Inn ranked top by respondents of the survey, with good first impressions, an easy to use booking process and good customer service.

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