Third Party Web Sites;
Expedia, Choice Hotels, Marriott and Hotels.com
Set Themselves Apart
|December 2003 - The Gómez Performance Index (GPI) for Hotels
benchmarks end-to-end response time and availability performance of leading
hotel and third-party travel services Web sites executing a multi-step
transaction -- the ubiquitous hotel room search. The steps measured consist
of navigating to the homepage; initiating a search query; and gathering
room details and rate information. Measurements for the Hotels GPI are
taken from a cross section of a high-speed Internet backbone networks once
every hour from 10 co-location facilities around the U.S.
Four companies set themselves apart in the ten-company GPI: Expedia, Choice Hotels, Marriott and Hotels.com. They outperform the response time benchmark average of nearly 10.5 seconds during the measurement period (November 15 through December 15, 2003) by more than three seconds.
Hotels GPI Benchmark
The four GPI for Hotels leaders established a substantial head start
in response time performance above the field of competitors. In fact, Orbitz,
the fifth ranking company on the response time benchmark, was a full six
seconds slower than industry leader Expedia. Although six seconds doesn't
seem like a long time to wait, in Internet response time that is a delta
likely to send customers running to the competition.
To put things into perspective, Gómez evaluated the number of properties displayed in a default search query to determine if our response time leaders were truly producing fast and relevant search results vs. producing one or two properties. Yet, we were surprised to discover that top performer Expedia's results produced 25 properties, as did Hotels.com. Marriott's search results produced 10 properties, which exceeds other direct hotel providers on the benchmark.
Interestingly, Hilton, which is near the bottom of the response time rankings, only produces three properties in the Boston search query results (the search used for every transaction measured by the Hotels GPI). The site requires customers to navigate through additional pages in its multi-step transaction, which contributes to a sluggish end-to-end response time along with slow loading objects on the its navigation bar.
The industry average for transaction success rate was 98.4%. Success rate relates to the percentage of tests that were completed without individual page errors, extremely slow performance or other Internet problems impeding the transaction. The most reliable site was Choice Hotels, which measured 99.97% successful in our synthetic testing, followed closely by Marriott at 99.89% success rate.
In total, half of the companies in this benchmark ranked in the 99th percentile demonstrating that the online hotel industry is highly available and able to offer reliable services via the online channel.
However, there was one site that stood out as an outlier in the success rate rankings. Best Western experienced multiple errors during our initial Hotels GPI measurement time period. The bulk of errors on the Best Western Web site occurred on November 25 beginning at 8 AM ET and persisted throughout the day. These errors did not manifest themselves as catastrophic Web site failures, rather our time threshold of 25 seconds for data transfer on any given page within the transaction was exceeded. Patient surfers may still have been able to process their online transactions but were certainly subject to excessive wait times. The performance bottlenecks were evident on the search listing and room detail pages, which both exceeded six seconds to load on that day. Normally these pages load in just over four seconds across a high-speed Internet connection.
Gomez Performance Indices (GPIs) measure Web site speed and availability at the nation's largest and most visited online institutions. Gómez takes a task-based approach to performance monitoring by emulating typical customer interactions to establish performance management standards.
GPIs provide a real-world view of how long it takes to navigate a Web site and how frequently that process is impeded by errors. Gómez does this by scripting a transaction using proprietary software agents that record tests each day across numerous ISPs from multiple co-location facilities throughout the country. Metrics from GPI companies across all locations are then aggregated and presented as a mean benchmark for evaluating performance.
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|Also See:||Hotelierís 2003 Top Ten Internet Resolutions / Max Starkov and Jason Price / January 2003|
|Hotel Industry Web Site Study; Expedia, Travelocity and Sheraton Delivering Best Online Customer Experience / June 2003|