Online travel companies are missing out on bookings or driving customers to rival sites because of poor web site design or user experiences, according to new research.

The study of more than 25 travel web sites suggests that cumbersome search engines, hard to find booking forms and hidden charges are the biggest mistakes.

Webcredible, who carred out the research, says a lack of print-friendly page designs and not promoting competitive prices on home pages also caused people to click away.

‘The travel sector experiences one of the highest levels of comparison shopping online. A massive one in four visits to travel web sites come from another site in the same category,’ said Webcredible director Trenton Moss.

'Users are unlikely to hang around for long if they can’t find what they are looking for, but by making a number of easy-to-implement changes online travel companies can significantly improve the satisfaction of their web site visitors. This would ultimately lead to increased bookings and revenue.’

Get Webcredible's "Online Travel Sector Usability Report"