Usability Evaluation of Hong Kong Hotel Websites

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Usability Evaluation of Hong Kong Hotel Websites
PhD Research Proposal

Tom Au Yeung
School of Hotel & Tourism Management,
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University,
Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong

1.Problem Definition

The Internet, especially the World Wide Web (WWW or Web), has had a great impact on the hospitality and tourism industry in recent years. Many hotel organizations have been working hard to develop their own websites. These websites play an important role for mediating between hotels and customers as places for information acquisition and transactions.

Making a profit from the Internet is a major goal of many companies nowadays. Whether or not a customer makes a purchase on a website depends greatly on the level of trust towards that particular website. A recent study revealed that the quality or usability of the interface design is a determinant factor of establishing trust of a website (Roy et al., 2001). Loosely and intuitively defined, usability is the ease with which a software product can be used to perform its designated task by its users at a specific criterion. Another study by Souza et al. (2000) reported that 65 percent of visitors to retail websites leave due to usability barriers. Usability problems are the main issue facing Web customers today.

Despite the fact that hotel accommodation is reputed to be one of the most suitable and one of the earliest available products for sales over the Internet, hotel website designers tend to complicate the Web experience by ignoring the novice users. Every time a potential customer decides not to fill up a complicated reservation form, becomes disorientated by a navigational system or receives an error message that the customer cannot explain, the customer simply returns to the old method of making reservations. These unpleasant experiences result in lowering online sales, losing customers and reducing credibility of the hotel company.

According to a framework proposed by Lu and...
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