When buying an air ticket on your mobe - what makes you give up?
If you were Chinese, you would know
Thirty-four per cent of Chinese flyers have booked a ticket on a mobile phone in the last year, compared to 6 per cent globally, but that's ramping up as customers expect to manage all their transactions on the move.
WorldPay, which spends most of its time processing electronic payments of all kinds, has been talking to airlines and 4,500 of their passengers to find out why they choose different payment mechanisms and what drives them to abandon bookings entirely, something on which the two groups differ sharply.
Airlines, it seems, believe the majority of abandoned bookings result from failed payments, but passengers blame the unexpected extras for driving the cost up during the booking process, so by the end of the process their fifty-quid ticket comes in at more than a ton and the browser tab gets unceremoniously closed.
One-and-a-half per cent of the bookings airlines do take are fraudulent anyway. Despite that, few of them bother blocking suspicious transactions as the fraud rate hasn't risen significantly in the last few years, though the early signs are that 2012 will buck that trend with airlines reporting that fraud is on the increase.
Booking a flight online takes an average of 25 minutes, with the Japanese being the quickest clickers at 20 minutes, and the laggardly Brazilians taking a leisurely 32 minutes to complete the process.
Most of that time, in the UK at least, is spent removing the various "optional" additions with which the airlines like to pad their rates – reserved seating, single-flight insurance and so forth – which continue to dog the process, despite legislation insisting that customers should not be automatically opted in to such things.
WorldPay reckons that in the UK we're prepared to put up with surcharges, as long as they total less than 5 per cent, but we suffer more than most: only 8 per cent of the Japanese passengers surveyed have ever noticed any surcharges added to their booking.
There are loads more statistics in the report, which includes info on national breakdowns and advice to airlines hoping to make booking easier, all in exchange for an email address – in the hope of engendering more of the online commerce from which WorldPay makes a living. ®
There seems to be a self-defeating sadism in the online sales channel. Ditto those who "design" complex automated phone answering systems. If the latter confused one, it used to be possible to wait silently until connected to a real person, but some systems now just end the call. Much the same with call centre staff who recite from scripts -- I just warn them I'm about to hang up.
Once any such task becomes an ordeal, abandon and seek an alternative.
Sometimes I've been so maddened I've written via snail mail to the CEO of the company concerned. At which point, usually, a middle class flack will phone you, apologise and sort things out.
I suspect this is the only way that large companies will realise that their 'efficient' customer interface is actually driving business away.
Airlines are the worst for this.
Low advertised cost of the seat, then factor in baggage tax, debit card tax, airport tax, flight time tax, pre-booking tax, extra legroom tax, and a ticket that is advertised for £25 suddenly becomes £150.
That's probably why, as in my case with Flybe, the advertised cost went up by almost 600%.
If they were more open about it less people would book but less would cancel the booking process.
RyanAir are the worst for this.... so much so that they actively prohibit price comparison sites, screen-scrapers and consolidators from including their flights within the results.
They advertise their flights for as little as 1p (really they do)... but then you realise you HAVE to add airport tax & surcharges and that is before they try to peddle their priority boarding - extra legroom etc...
Because they know that a screenscraper would be able to automate the unselection of these options, they employ capatcha type systems to prove you are a real human.
Oh - and if you don't check-in online... theres a surcharge for that.
By the time you get to the checkout the price has quadrupled or more, and you realise that you can't afford the ticket any more.
Cheap Flights song
We received an invitation in the post one Monday morn'
To attend our cousin's wedding in the town where we were born
The do was back in Kerry; so wishing to be frugal
We trawled the 'net to find some decent travel deals on Google
Cheap flights, cheap flights, cheap as they can be,
Bedad we found an airline selling flights for 50p.
(Diddly aiden daidin daidin dai)
...many more verses omitted; well worth reading it all at the link above.