When it comes to getting a great deal on travel, there are numerous online sites to choose from. Two of the most popular, Hipmunk and Kayak, are going head to head when it comes to features and customer service. Whether someone wants to plan a full trip in minutes or get some suggestions on activities, both sites offer plenty of support. However, customer service is still at the heart of travel companies, so which one comes out ahead?
Here’s a side by side comparison of the two sites. Keep in mind that personal preference still plays a role, and the interface between the two both have pros and cons. Customer service should be the primary focus of any company, so how do these two stack up against each other?
Talking to a real person
The homepage of both sites doesn’t have a contact now button or other similar function. However, the Hipmunk site does have a FAQ button under “Mumbu Jumbo” on the homepage, which is probably the last thing a user wants to see when they want to call a company. Clicking on “About us,” there’s still no phone number for Hipmunk users, so at this point they may go to a different site.
Clicking on Kayak’s “About us” tab, users can then find a contact button and there are addresses but no phone numbers for multiple countries. It doesn’t take much sleuthing to get an address for Kayak, although it would certainly be more beneficial as a homepage feature. However, at least it’s there, and users are likely to at least put in the effort to get this far.
So what's next?
Clearly talking to a real person isn’t possible with these sites, but contacting them electronically is viable. Kayak features a “send us a note” link on their contact page, but Hipmunk offers multiple ways to connect including Twitter, Google +, Facebook and regular email. The good news is that Hipmunk features these social media links at the bottom of every page, so users who prefer e-communication can quickly find it. Kayak doesn’t offer that kind of accessibility.
Both sites will send users an automated reply with an email, and the response time is comparable (usually within 24 hours). The two sites are neck and neck here, but the fact remains that the ability to talk to a real person (or lack thereof) is frustrating. It’s not a big deal if someone is planning a trip months away, but what if there’s a problem while a customer is at the airport? Quicker and more accessible response options are necessary.
When sending a sample question to both companies, their responses are fairly similar. It’s clear that some of the text is automated, but when necessary there’s a personal touch. If someone sends a question about booking a particular trip, the response is professional and unbiased. This is of course necessary since hotels featured on both sites need to be treated equally.
It’s easier to get a reply via email rather than on a social media page. Oftentimes, social media “managers” are actually interns and it’s easy to skip an inboxed message. However, this isn’t an excuse. If a site is going to bolster social media customer service, it needs to stay on top of it.
Are there other options?
Sites like Zicasso make contacting customer service easier, such as having a “contact us” button right on the homepage. However, the go-to method is still email. There are a few boutique sites and even some mega travel sites with a phone number, but that’s becoming rarer each year. There’s simply too much overhead to allow for that kind of personal service, which means sites need to stay vigilant when replying to customers virtually.