The Best Independent Travel Website Is

 @MarkJohansonIBT on November 30 2012 11:34 AM

Consumers love using independent websites to make their travel plans and are very satisfied with the prices they see. These are the findings of J.D. Power and Associates’ 2012 Independent Travel Website Satisfaction Report, released Friday, which should come as little surprise for those accustomed to booking their vacations on third-party websites (those unaffiliated with an airline, hotel or other travel supplier).

Consumers, on average, visit sites like Hotwire.com, Priceline.com and Orbitz.com about 20 times and make four purchases annually. They’re most likely to book flights (61 percent), followed by hotels (57 percent), car rentals (28 percent) and complete vacation packages (16 percent). Among these options, satisfaction is generally highest for those who book a total vacation package. These consumers are the most active travel website shoppers, using travel websites twice as often as the average person.

Of the websites surveyed, Booking.com came out on top this year as travelers’ favorite with a score of 816 on a 1,000-point scale. J.D. Power and Associates said Booking.com performed particularly well in availability of reservation options, ease of booking and competitive pricing. Booking.com claims to attract more than 30 million monthly visitors.

Rounding out the top five were Hotwire.com (813), Priceline.com (808), Orbitz.com (799) and Hotels.com (798).

"Reinforcing the correlation between overall satisfaction and satisfaction with pricing, the highest-ranked travel websites in overall satisfaction all have significantly higher price satisfaction scores than the report average," said Sara Wong Hilton, director at J.D. Power and Associates. "While other factors certainly affect overall satisfaction, 75 percent of online travel website consumers indicate price as a primary purchase reason, so there is no denying price greatly impacts the overall website experience."

The importance of price does, however, vary by age, with the 18- to-24-year-old crowd purchasing more by recommended brands and the 45- to 54-year-old crowd purchasing solely on price.

The 2012 Independent Travel Website Satisfaction Report is based on information culled from over 2,000 consumers who made online purchases from an independent travel website in the past 12 months. The survey assesses six factors, including competitiveness of pricing, usefulness of information, availability of booking options, website store, ease of booking, competitiveness of sales and promotions, and customer service.

J.D. Power gauges satisfaction on a variety of services in the travel industry. A poll in July, for instance, found that consumers are very happy with car rental experiences but less than pleased with their time in hotels.

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