The 4-seconds rule

Among the more useful recent research studies is a report by Akamai (in association with Babson college) that shows that 1/3rd of online travel searchers abandon their efforts after waiting for 4 secs or more (for the results to show up).

As every online travel company knows, it’s not easy to get a customer to book and turning them off within 4 seconds or more is pretty much the end of the game. While travelers are increasingly looking for more involving content (movies, blogs, reviews, ratings), they also expect to find the basic stuff (say search results for a room one weekend from now) effortlessly. Make it harder for them to book and you won’t see sales regardless of glowing reviews and spectacular flash images. With a new travel site launching almost every other day, travelers are increasingly less patient with laggards and user-unfriendly sites.

Here are some ways to turn off a prospective customer
– Make it cumbersome for a returning visitor to request a new username/password in case they have forgotten both
– Make them change passwords every 14 days for security purposes!
– Show a ” processing…” screen for more than a few mins and then end with a “page not found” message.
– Ask them to call to complete their order because they might get better deals offline!
– Put web-originated calls on hold for more than 5 mins or ask to call at a better time
– Have the email opt-in checkbox checked by default.
– Have a promo flash on the homepage long after the promotion has expired
– Have broken links on the homepage.
– Have no tel# on the Contact us page. Instead, have a lengthy form and a FAQs. Sorry! If you’re a travel site selling real rooms or airline tickets, better have real 24/7 service for customers who have booked atleast once.

Published by

Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.