Testing the Usability of Hotel Websites: The Springboard for Customer Relationship Building
Despite the growing attention given to web usability, little is understood as to what usability problems threaten the e-marketing initiatives of hotels. This research extends existing web usability literature by discovering problems that might impede the fostering of relationships with online leisure customers. Three four-person groups of frequent Internet shoppers tested three UK-based hotel sites via a protocol analysis methodology. Severe usability problems related to the interface quality, information quality, and service quality negatively affected the purchase and revisit intentions of most participants. Results suggested that exchanging links with local points of interest, simplifying the pathways to different sorts of leisure breaks, increasing the depth of information related to in room facilities and pricing, providing proactive interactions, and avoiding third-party reservation systems will have positive effects on users' perceived satisfaction, purchase intention, and potential relationship building. Implications for hotel marketers and avenues for future research are also discussed.