CX Insights

Underdogs beat Expedia in usability showdown

4 min read

The international travel site Expedia (Alexa Rank 816) gets defeated by its competitors Hotwire, Priceline, and Travelocity on basic usability tasks. Expedia performed the worst in a usability showdown between the four major international travel sites. A total of 148 people participated in this usability test and tried to perform three basic tasks on one of the four websites.

Alexa rank for Expedia, Hotwire, Travelocity, and Priceline
Alexa rank for Expedia, Hotwire, Travelocity, and Priceline

Book a room in Amsterdam

The 148 participants tried to book a hotel room in Amsterdam in a certain price range on one of the four big travel websites. They had to find a way to search for a hotel room (task 1), limit their search on price (task 2), and book a room in the correct price range (task 3). The task performance was measured by the success rate and the time per task.

Expedia homepage
Expedia, Hotwire, Travelocity, and Priceline

Task 1: Where do you click to search a hotel?

The first task was to find a way to search for a hotel room on the homepage. Clicks on the right search fields or on one of the buttons leading to hotel sections have been measured as successful.

Sample results task 1 (Expedia)

134 participants out of 148 (91%) successfully performed this task. All four travel sites performed quite good on this first task. The diagram below shows the percentage of task success on task 1 for each of the four travel sites.

Another interesting metric is the time users need to answer each task. The following diagram displays the average time for task 1 (in seconds). On average it took users about 10 seconds to find a way to book a hotel room on the homepage of Travelocity. The homepage of Hotwire seems to be well organized for : it took users less than 7 seconds to find a way to search for a hotel.

Task 2: Where do you click to limit your search on price?

The participants were looking for a hotel in a price range of 80 to 120 dollars. The participants have been asked to limit the search results on price.

Sample results task 2 (Priceline)

The average success rate of this task was 76 percent. Only 60 percent of the participants found a way to sort the search results on price at Expedia. The sorting features on Hotwire and Travelocity were found by more than 80 percent of the participants.

It took participants only a little bit more than 7 seconds to find a way to sort their search results on price at Travelocity. Expedia users needed more than 20 seconds to answer this task. Hotwire and Priceline users needed on average around 13 to 14 seconds for this task.

Task 3: Where do you click to book a hotel?

The final task for this test was to book a hotel in the right price range from the page with search results. Only 32 out of 148 participants clicked on a link leading to a booking page of hotel in the right price range. Many participants did not select a hotel in the right price range or clicked on an element that didn’t link to a booking page. Priceline definitely outperformed it’s competitors on this task with a success rate of almost 70 percent.

Participants searching for a way to book a room at Expedia answered the task in about 13 seconds. The success rate on task 3 for Priceline was way better than its competitors and participants answered in less than 6 seconds.

Overall performance

Expedia gets beaten by its smaller competitors in this usability test. Priceline has the highest success rates and Hotwire seems to be the runner up. The differences in the total time for all tasks are small for Priceline, Hotwire, and Travelocity. Users need more time to perform a basic task (booking a hotel in Amsterdam) at Expedia.

Tested with Usabilla

This usability test was conducted with the online usability tool Usabilla. This online usability tool allows you to collect direct and valuable feedback from your users. You can use these lean and mean usability tests in any stage of the design process to collect feedback on a webpage, mockup, wireframe, or image. You create an online test in a few minutes, using any image as source. Users share their opinion or perform tasks by adding points and notes directly on the screenshot, mockup or image. Sign up for a free account to try it yourself.

Paul Veugen
Founder / CEO @ Usabilla User Experience designer, entrepreneur and metrics junky.