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Record sales in 2008 make downtime expensive for travel websites

Online travel sales are at an all-time high, and they keep growing. In this competitive market it is increasingly important for travel websites to always be available to their customers. Website downtime is basically the same thing as closing the shop and will drive both sales and customers away to competing services.

To see how they are doing, we here at Pingdom have monitored the uptime of 16 popular travel websites.

The survey shows a large difference in availability between the monitored websites. Quikbook.com has had the most downtime in 2008, being unavailable for a total of more than 10 hours. This is more than twice as much as Expedia.com, which had the second-worst availability on the list.

Notably, Travel.yahoo.com hasn’t had any downtime at all in 2008. Yahoo is well known for having a very good uptime, and it appears that their travel website is no exception.

Downtime for the period January 1 – May 15, 2008
Website Downtime Uptime %
Quikbook.com 10h 20m 99.68
Expedia.com 4h 39m 99.86
SideStep.com 3h 50m 99.88
Hotels.com 3h 34m 99.89
CheapTickets.com 3h 30m 99.89
Hotwire.com 3h 24m 99.89
Orbitz.com 3h 10m 99.90
Kayak.com 2h 25m 99.93
Travel.com 1h 50m 99.95
Travelzoo.com 1h 30m 99.95
StaTravel.com 1h 15m 99.96
Priceline.com 1h 5m 99.97
LastMinuteTravel.com 30m 99.98
OneTravel.com 45m 99.98
Travelocity.com 45m 99.98
Travel.yahoo.com 0m 100.00

Online travel sales will reach $110 billion in 2008 in the US alone according to the research firm PhoCusWright. With this kind of turnover, downtime costs more money for travel websites than for many other types of online services. And since there is so much competition, there are plenty of options for customers to take their business elsewhere if one website fails to respond.

With 10 out of these 16 websites having a 99.9% uptime or better in 2008, it is clear that they are taking the issue seriously.

How much money a travel website loses as a result of downtime depends on many factors, such as the time of day and the amount of visitors that get turned away. Availability issues may also damage the trust users have in a website, leading them to choose another travel service in the future. As competition between travel websites heats up even further, the negative effects of downtime will most likely increase.

About the survey:
The websites were tested from Pingdom’s monitoring network, which has servers both in the US and Europe. Any website issues were always confirmed from two different geographic locations before a website was considered unavailable. Tests were performed every 5 minutes, around the clock.

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