Online travel sites losing millions to competitors due to slow performance

  • Posted by JB Brockman
  • On June 17, 2015

TestPlant performance tests show leading travel websites are losing customers every day

London, UK – June 17, 2015 – TestPlant, the maker of the eggPlant range of software quality tools, today announced the results of a performance monitoring study of four of the world’s most popular online travel websites. The results indicate that industry players are missing-out on important revenues due to fluctuations in website performance.

According to KissMetrics, 40% of shoppers abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load, also stating that a 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% drop in conversions. The global online travel industry is expected to generate $483 billion in revenue in 2015 which means that even a 1 second drop in overall performance could see around $93m (£62m) worth of business going to competitors every day, as shoppers decide to take their business elsewhere.

In April TestPlant monitored the length of time a standard flight search took at five-minute intervals from 7am to 8pm on four of the UK’s leading travel websites. Large variations in performance were observed throughout the day, in particular around the following times: 11:30am, 3:30pm, and 6:30pm, which implies a load impact due to increased traffic.

The performance of the sites varied by 1.5 to 3 seconds throughout the day. This means that even the best sites are losing approximately 10% of their revenue to competitors due to performance issues, and the worst are losing over 20%.

“Clearly you’re going to have some performance reduction due to load, but in some cases, we observed a 50% reduction in performance due to load, which is very high,” said Antony Edwards, CTO, TestPlant. “Remember that Amazon reports a 1% loss of revenue for a 0.1 second delay, and some of our sites displayed as much as three seconds delay, so that’s going to have a significant impact on revenue. Most importantly, we noted that if you rank the four sites based on their median search time, they are exactly in order of revenue. So the website with the best performance is the most successful.”

As part of its focus on the travel industry, TestPlant also interviewed several testers, developers, and managers who work at on-line travel websites to understand why they are not performance testing.

“Lots of different points were discussed, but every discussion raised the same core issue – that online travel agents (especially the aggregators) are extremely complex at the network protocol-level; and so using the typical performance testing approach is just not feasible,” said Edwards. “They are too asynchronous, too multi-threaded, too heterogeneous, and are updated too frequently. Many of the discussions also highlighted that at least 50% of their traffic is from mobile devices and most performance testing tools don’t address mobile.”

This huge increase in mobile usage represents a further issue for OTAs in that most will not be regularly testing their websites on mobile devices. According to KissMetrics 51% of mobile internet users say that they’ve encountered a website that crashed, froze, or received an error.