Americans’ Satisfaction with Travel Apps Lags Behind

Ease of use, screen load times, leave users wanting
A traveler looking at their cell phone

Whether you’re a business traveler or planning a family vacation, travel apps can help you navigate trip-related activities such as flight check-ins, car rentals and hotel stays. But when it comes to user satisfaction, travel apps, as a whole, have plenty of room for improvement, a new study found.

Data and analytics firm J.D. Power explored customer satisfaction with travel apps that provide services related to online travel agencies, airlines, hotels and rental cars. To evaluate the apps, they focused on four types of user experiences:

  • the clarity of the information presented on the app
  • ease of navigation
  • the appearance and speed of screens loading
  • the range of services provided by the app

Among travel app users, airline apps were most popular with a 90% customer adoption rate followed by hotel apps (84%), online travel agency apps (78%) and rental car apps (59%).

On a scale of 1 to 1,000, airline apps scored 840 in overall satisfaction, while hotel, online travel agency and rental car apps each scored 849. While those numbers may seem relatively high, they fall short compared to financial service-related apps. Credit card apps scored 874 in overall satisfaction, and retail banking apps scored 867. Credit card apps and banking apps are also more widely used than travel apps.

The factor app users seemed most concerned with was ‘ease of use.’ When an app is rated ‘easy to use,’ it’s more likely to have a higher overall satisfaction score. For example, hotel apps rated ‘easy to use’ scored, on average,130 points higher in overall satisfaction than apps that weren’t rated ‘easy to use.’ Likewise among airline apps, those rated ‘easy to use’ scored on average 125 points higher in overall satisfaction than those that weren’t. However, the number of apps rated ‘easy to use’ was just over half, with 58% of hotel apps and 62% of airline apps rated that way.

Some travel apps also perform poorly at pivotal times. Users of airline apps are the most likely of travel app users to turn to their apps for important information during the day of travel. For example, you might use the app to check the updated status of your flight. Yet, airline apps have the worst performance among travel apps when it comes to the speed with which their screens load, which could affect a traveler’s ability to get time-sensitive information. Not surprisingly, airline apps scored low for this metric, with an average score of 824. In contrast, online travel agency apps scored the highest when it comes to screen load time with a score of 856.

When it comes to the highest overall customer satisfaction rankings, here’s which brands came out on top:

  • JetBlue scored the highest among airline apps with a score of 864
  • World of Hyatt came out on top among hotel apps with a score of 867
  • Orbitz led the online travel agency apps with a score of 866
  • National Car Rental had the highest ranking among rental car apps with a score of 860

While some travel apps may help you save time when you’re on the go, take a few minutes before you leave to learn how to use its features since the app may not be as easy to use as you’d like. Also, if there is critical information that you will need from an app while you’re traveling, have a backup plan to get the data in case the app malfunctions when you need the information most.

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