Booking.com: The best global travel website of 2017

For the 2017 Web Globalization Report Card, we studied the following 24 travel websites:

  • Air France
  • Airbnb
  • American Airlines
  • Avis
  • Booking.com
  • British Airways
  • Delta
  • Emirates
  • Enterprise
  • Expedia
  • Four Seasons
  • Hertz
  • Hilton
  • Hotels.com
  • Hyatt
  • InterContinental Hotels
  • Kayak
  • KLM
  • Marriott
  • Royal Caribbean
  • Sixt
  • TripAdvisor
  • Uber
  • United Airlines

This is the third year that we’ve combined web-based travel services companies with the travel companies they represent. And while OTAs (online travel agencies) have long dominated this category, we’re seeing airlines and hotels become much more competitive in the fight for customer relationships, and not just in developed markets.

Booking.com emerging number one overall. It leads all other websites with support for 41 languages and  leverages global templates across all local websites. The mobile website is also lighter (in kilobytes) than most competitive websites giving Booking.com a potential performance advantage. Following close behind in score is Hotels.com.

The travel industry is by definition a global industry. When your customer may be located anywhere in the world and traveling to any other place in the world, you need to support not only a significant number of languages but also currencies, time zones, and mobile devices. A number of the companies in this sector have been aggressive in using geolocation and content negotiation to greet visitors with the right language, region and currency. But they also provide a great deal of flexibility. For instance, Booking.com and Hotels.com allow you to change your currency using what I call the currency gateway:

But Booking.com is far from perfect. It buries its global gateway on its mobile website, which is not ideal for visitors who need to quickly change settings. Instead, I recommend including the global gateway link in the header, as shown here with Emirates:

I recommend a more generic globe icon than the one used by Emirates, but this is far better than most other mobile travel websites.

American Airlines does not use a globe icon, but does at least make its global gateway available in the header, as shown here:

I do not recommend using flags for navigational purposes and many travel websites continue to use them today. Flags do not scale well and flags convey meaning that often goes far beyond mere navigation — a reason why a number of websites intentionally leave the Taiwan flag off of the global gateway, even though it includes all others.

A number of companies have been quite busy expanding their linguistic reach; websites that added languages over the past year include:

  • Emirates
  • Hertz
  • Hilton
  • Kayak
  • KLM
  • Uber

KLM, by the way, leads all airlines with support for 28 languages. And Hilton leads all hotels with support for 23 languages (though if you include Airbnb as a hotel brand, it emerges on top).

Websites that scored on the negative end of this list include Four Seasons, Enterprise and Avis.

To learn more, check out the Web Globalization Report CardTravel and travel services is the largest sector covered by the Report Card, a section more than 50 pages long.

The best global travel websites (and why)

Delta's global gateway

There are now more than one billion international travelers, making the travel industry a benchmark for web globalization innovation and excellence.

So I’m pleased to be presenting a free webinar — sponsored by Lionbridge — to discuss my analysis of the leaders within this exciting industry, along with lessons for all companies.

My presentation will identify globalization trends (both positive and negative) in the travel industry. This webinar is designed to help you guide your web, marketing, and mobile teams to drive positive, efficient change.

You will learn:

  • Best practices in web globalization
  • Profiles of websites including Hotels.com, KLM, Hertz, DiscoverAmerica.com, and more
  • The hottest languages on the web today
  • Mobile considerations to save time & improve user experience
  • How to make the most of social & user-generated content

Even if your company is not a travel company, you will learn valuable tips and insights to help your company stay ahead of the competition.

I hope you can join me!

Details:

May 20, 2014

11am – 12pm EST

Click here to register.

The slowly evolving airline website

I enjoyed this vision of the future of an airline website (by Fantasy Interactive), particularly this map of fares and destinations:

airline website mockup

Why haven’t other airlines embraced this vision yet?

Probably because most haven’t even figured out how to make their booking engines as user friendly as Kayak.com.

KLM appears to be headed in this direction with its new design (currently in beta in Oman).

Here’s a screen grab of the booking engine:

klm_oman

It’s a clean, functional design that gives you a nice view of fares across a period of time.

Amazing how something so simple remains so elusive across so many airline websites.

KLM came out on top as the best global airline website in the 2013 Web Globalization Report Card.

It leads the airline category with support for 27 languages (Delta, American, Emirates all support fewer than 20 languages).

And yet KLM still trails travel websites such as Hotels.com, Kayak, and Booking.com.

These virtual websites have exerted pressure on airlines and hotels and rental car companies to focus more on user experience.

It’s ironic that airline websites are finally becoming more user friendly just as the airplanes themselves have never been less user friendly (for those of us in coach).

The best global travel websites

lionbridge_travel_2013

I’m pleased to announce a new (and free) report focused on the globalization of travel websites.

From American Airlines to Kayak to Wyndham, this report highlights those websites that have the widest global reach and are the most user friendly — regardless of the user’s language or nationality.

Lionbridge sponsored the production of this report and is making the report available for free (registration required).

Lionbridge suggested the websites they wanted to see included but they did not play any role in the analysis of these sites. I’ve been studying many of these companies for years now through the Web Globalization Report Card.

Even if your company is not a member of this industry, you may find this report valuable. Included are a number of general web globalization best practices.

Furthermore, the travel industry includes a handful of companies that have really innovated in regards to the globalization of websites and mobile apps, companies like Booking.com, Hotels.com, and Kayak.

In all, this report scores 71 companies across a seven segments, including hotels, airlines, rental cars, cruise lines, and online travel agencies. Companies include Starwood Hotels, Delta, United, Booking.com, Expedia, Hotels.com, Avis, Sixt, among others.

You can download your copy for free by registering here.

Delta’s global gateway: When complexity kills

I’m always amazed when I come across global gateways that I find complicated in my native language.

Like Delta Airline‘s global gateway.

What you see here is not one but two pull-down menus. First you select your country, then language. And don’t you dare try to touch that language menu because it doesn’t work until you select a country.

I’m serious.

And what about that “Worldwide Sites” link below the menus? Don’t you dare click that link because you’ll end up on a page that basically says this:

Translation: You shouldn’t have clicked the Worldwide Sites link; Now go back and start over.

I’m not making this up. I have no idea why there is a Worldwide Sites link.

I’m not trying to pick on only Delta here. For some reason, a number of airline web sites are suddenly in love with these two-part pull-down menus. I wrote about this earlier.

For more of my rants on global gateways, check out The Art of the Global Gateway.

And to see how Delta rated against other airline web sites, check out the Web Globalization Report Card.