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. Ranks Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Independent Travel
Web Sites for a Third Consecutive Year

Market Share Among Independent Travel Web Sites Remains Flat

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., Nov. 25, 2008 - While the percentage of travelers making online airline, rental car and hotel reservations has increased 15 percentage points during the past year, bookings for independent travel Web sites have increased by only 1 percentage point since 2007, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Independent Travel Web Site Satisfaction Study(SM).

Now in its fourth year, the study measures customer satisfaction with online booking for airline, hotel or rental car reservations made on seven major independent travel Web sites. Six factors are examined to measure customer satisfaction. In order of importance, they are: competitiveness of price; ease of booking; usefulness of the information on the Web site; availability of booking options/travel packages; appearance/design of Web site; and ease of navigation.

The study finds that while 70 percent of travel reservations were booked online in 2008 -- up from 53 percent in 2007 -- only 16 percent were made through independent travel Web sites. This marks a negligible market share increase of 1 percent in 2008. Additionally, consumers who booked their travel using an independent Web site were considerably less satisfied compared with 2007, with satisfaction scores declining by 17 points on a 1,000-point scale to 785 in 2008.

. Customer Satisfaction Index Ranking (Based on a 1,000-point scale) J.D. Power Circle Ratings For Consumers 808 5 787 3
Independent Travel Web Site Average 785 3 781 3 780 3 778 3  773 3 744 2
NOTE: is included in the study, but not ranked due to small sample size.

Power Circle Ratings Legend:
     5 - Among the best
     4 - Better than most
     3 - About average
     2 - The rest

"Many branded travel sites -- those directly operated by airline, rental car and hotel companies -- offer lowest-price guarantees, although customers perceive that independent travel Web sites are particularly price competitive," said Sam Thanawalla, director of travel and entertainment at J.D. Power and Associates. "When consumers don't believe they're getting the best deal using an independent site, they either go directly to the branded site or they concede to use an independent site, but are less satisfied with their experience."

While price is a key factor contributing to the decrease in customer satisfaction with independent travel Web sites, problems with excessive content and tools on travel Web sites are also contributing to the overall decline. Specifically, customers most frequently cite the additional pages that pop up during the booking process as a problem, which lowers customer satisfaction. Having to download new software in order to make reservations or get information on the best deals available is also a frequently reported issue among customers.

"Many of the independent players are trying to beef up their sites by adding more content and features, but this can make it more challenging for customers to easily navigate through sites and make travel reservations," said Thanawalla. "Web sites that offer lowest-price guarantees, provide images and have other relevant content, such as consumer reviews and information on areas that travelers will be visiting, will prove successful in satisfying customers. Ensuring a satisfying experience also leads to an increased likelihood that customers will return to make travel reservations in the future and give positive recommendations to others. In 2008, customers who say they are highly satisfied with their online booking experience are 50 percent more likely to return to the same Web site to book their next trip."

For a third consecutive year, ranks highest among independent travel Web sites, performing particularly well in competitiveness of pricing and ease of navigation. follows in the ranking, also performing particularly well in competitiveness of pricing.

Additionally, the study finds that an independent Web site's mix of travel services -- how much of the site's business is split between airline, rental car or hotel bookings -- also impacts satisfaction scores.

"Independent Web sites with a high proportion of flight-only reservations were strongly affected when airlines increased airfares in 2008, resulting in lower customer satisfaction," said Thanawalla. "Customer satisfaction levels among sites that also include a mix of rental car or hotel business -- for which prices have not increased dramatically -- have remained steady compared with previous years."

The 2008 Independent Travel Web Site Study is based on responses from 7,667 consumers who booked their travel reservations through independent Web sites. The study was fielded from May 2007 to October 2008. For more information, please visit

About J.D. Power and Associates

Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company operating in key business sectors including market research, forecasting, performance improvement, training and customer satisfaction. The company's quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually. For more information on car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies
Founded in 1888, The McGraw-Hill Companies (NYSE: MHP) is a leading global information services provider meeting worldwide needs in the financial services, education and business information markets through leading brands such as Standard & Poor's, McGraw-Hill Education, BusinessWeek and J.D. Power and Associates. The Corporation has more than 280 offices in 40 countries. Sales in 2007 were $6.8 billion. Additional information is available at

No advertising or other promotional use can be made of the information in this release without the express prior written consent of J.D. Power and Associates. 


John Tews
J.D. Power and Associates
Troy, Mich.
(248) 312-4119

Also See: Tops Independent Travel Web Sites in Customer Satisfaction, Last According to J.D. Power Report / November 2007


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