Thursday, October 25, 2007

Destination websites at evidence of 208.7% internet usage growth rate

With the enormous growth of internet users worldwide from 208.7% compared to the year 2000, indicates that websites have become major business generators. There are 1,114,274,426 internet users worldwide representing about 16.9% of the world population as of March 2007.

Let's analyze uptime of the European Tourism Boards' websites, based on Mon.itor.Us benchmarks. In May 2007 Mon.itor.Us published a report Not all European Tourism Boards are ready for summer rush. It showed low performance for Finland and Denmark country sites just before the start of active tourism season. Mon.itor.Us indicated the necessity to monitor the websites for knowing and prevention of any problems that would hinder visitors to use the website and potential visitors to those countries.

Let's visit back Mon.itor.Us benchmarks and find the report. It is tagged under Tourism/Tourism Boards. By the way, these tags and reports are customer created, so anyone can create benchmark reports. And most importantly it's free. You can notice that these reports are generated weekly, and the history of the previous weeks are available to browse. 9 weeks' reports are already in history.

The forty-second week report shows that already in one week the Belgium Official Tourism site has been down about 10% of the time and the performance of the website is down by 9.88 points. The Iceland Board follows them, and shows 90.35% uptime and its performance had worsened by 9.65 points. Syria and Lithuania had been up, but quite slow, and their performance was down by 137 ms and 67 ms respectively.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Growth of travel web sites in the past year has soared by 25%

Now travel planning and booking are among the most popular online activities. Let's just browse the facts.

•US$115 billion worth of travel products are sold worldwide online
•Online leisure/unmanaged business travel sales in the US, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region in 2005 (in billions and % increase vs. previous year)
–US: US$ 65.4 billion (25.5%)
–Europe: US$ 34.5 billion (49.0%)
–Asia Pacific: US$ 15.9 billion (31.4%)
•9 out of 10 consumers in the US used the web in the summer of 2005 to plan trips or purchase

Mon.itor.Us benchmarks aggregated reports which provides very useful information and the possibility to compare weekly reports for all hospitality related sites that are benchmarked. This week for example the Iceland tourism board site was available only 90.35%, Belguim Tourism Board was at 90.12% and the most popular tourism and travel media Travel and Leisure magazine had only 85.55% availability.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Not all European Tourist Boards are ready for summer rush

Tourists do lots of research on the web before traveling and National Tourist Boards websites are the number one web destinations. How well are National Tourism Boards’ websites prepared to pick out the best vacation seasons? MonitorUS conducted research to check speed and availability of European countries official websites out of several locations in the US and Europe.
National Tourist Boards’ websites have become very significant and critical gateways; they make the first impression, share information across geographical, linguistic and technological boundaries, creating the electronic market place. A good performing website entices potential tourists to use their services and to come to their country. Effective websites show close to 100% availability. MonitorUS has been monitoring European National Tourist Board sites during the 1-12 June 2007 and showed the following uptime results.

Finland was at 91.5% which meant that the site was down more than a day during the for mentioned period, and while we might think, 98% is good it actually means the site being down approximately 6 hours during 12 days! How many customers were lost during that time? High uptime is not only possible it is absolutely necessary to be effective. Finland and Denmark official tourism sites seem to have had serious issues during the first twelve days in June.

Mon.itor.Us also measures website load speed which is an important metric in delivering a quality web experience. Web customers aren’t going to stand in the “queue” to reach you. Slow loading means longer time waiting in the line. Table below presents official websites’ load speed for 12 days.
Several sites demonstrated poor speed which is almost equal to being down; the worst were Greece and UK websites.
On-going monitoring and measurement of website uptime and load speed is a best practice, if businesses want to be competitive. It is not only important to monitor your own sites but also sites which directly or indirectly may affect your performance. For example tour operators or hotels’ website traffic may be significantly affected by the Country Tourist websites low availability.

Comparing Performance for Popular B&B Reservation sites in Europe and USA

On March 23, 2007 MON.ITOR.US published a blog named “Flower Delivery Websites: What’s the cost of downtime? that talks about customer experiences with flower delivery services during one of their busiest business seasons the 1st of February until 10th March 2007. It showed that some sites were down from 23 minutes to even 5 hours and 15 minutes.
Here is similar research done for the top 12 Google ranked B&B reservations sites for availability and uptime right before the active tourism season began in April. Tourists increasingly use online services to book their holidays. Hundreds of millions unique visitors visit tourism sites to make reservations every month. Those running small hotels, bed and breakfasts set up a websites with an e-commerce capability. Bellow is the statistical information about popular B&B reservation sites: (worldwide listing of B&Bs) (worldwide B&B listing)
Visitus B&B UK (UK B&B listing)
Scotland’s Best (B&Bs in Scotland)
BnB, Switzerland (B&B listing in Switzerland) (B&B listing in Italy)
B&B Ireland (B&B listing in Ireland)
Ireland B&B Network (B&Bs in Ireland) (B&Bs in Canada)

The first fifteen days out of thirty shows a combined result of 100% uptime, and the rest of the days the sites were down for certain hours. Overall outage was 750 hours or about 31 days! Interesting to note, that all the outages occurred during the second half of April and the worse for all were the 18th and 20th of April.

100 % success rate for all the days showed:
Visitus B&B UK
BnB Switzerland
Scotland's Best
Ireland B&B Network
The National Network

Two of the successful websites are hosted on Linux and two on Windows servers. The remaining one is hosted on FreeBSD.

Other websites showed:
99.97% - and B&B - UK, US, etc.
99.89 % -
99.77% - B&B Hotels
99.73% - B&B Ireland and
99.37% -

Three of the above websites are hosted on Linux and three on Windows servers. The average uptime for the websites on Linux is 99.74% and similarly the average uptime for Windows is 99.71%.

The table below demonstrates full uptime reports for all twelve B&B reservation sites:
B&B Ireland shows very low availability in May from USA (49%) and Germany (48.8%). On May 4 and the 5th the site was inaccessible from Germany and on May 4-8 the site was inaccessible from the USA.
The National Network (US and Canada)
B&B Hotels (188 hotels in Germany and in France)
B&B (France, UK & Ireland)

How do the reservation sites know their ultimate customer experience? What did the customers experience when they enter the sites to make the reservations? How to measure your web success of the Internet?
The chart below shows combined results for the above twelve websites by day in month April.

It’s noteworthy that had network problem one day since it shows outage from Europe only for 30 days.