This week: www.yahoo.co.uk
Yahoo is probably the best-known of all search engines - the tool that people use to try to find out specific information once they are connected to the Internet. Last year Yahoo launched a UK hotel and bed-and-breakfast reservation service which has details of some 31,000 properties, of which more than 1,200 are bookable.
The home, or first, page of the Internet site covers a multiplicity of subjects with travel featured under recreation and sport.
This led us through a long, alphabetical list of travel-related topics and we selected the UK travel option which led us to the reservations page. The home UK travel page offered quick and easy navigation with a broad banner offering late availability, flight offers, ski deals, and cruise deals as well as sections for worldwide destinations and UK accommodation.
Ease of Navigation
We set off down the late availability path hoping we would strike gold and be able to make a booking. Sadly not! Late availability simply displayed dates separated by country, resort and region, with prices from seven-14 nights.
Checking the skiing and cruising deals produced the same result. There was a list of some cruising deals and a message about skiing, asking clients to telephone to check for the latest availability. Not a particularly relevant message for this time of the season - it left the impression that nobody is paying that much attention to detail.
A click on the back button returned us to our reservations page where we tried flight offers. There was no ability to interrogate a particular date, or departure airport to access real-time information, or specifically availability. The list showed 17 of the most popular worldwide long-haul destinations, again listing from prices with applicable date bands.
Technically we had been transferred to another Web site providing this content. This turned out to belong to Thomas Cook.
Value of Information
Late availability and flight offers were of very limited value. There was no detailed information or pictures and this reminded us of those long lists of late availability faxes that operators send out with the infamous proviso that all holidays are subject to availability.
Despite the heading on the top of the frame, on-line reservations were not offered.
Unique or Special Functions
Two other features caught our attention:
* Advice on hotels, B&Bs, and hostels across the UK. The B&B option divided the UK into Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland and a number of regions within each or the ability to search for any town name.
*Research your next trip facility.
This listed all the continents and many world areas with maps of the appropriate continent and a special section identifying country profiles. Although there were a lot of countries listed under each region we realised that we were actually in yahoo.com's site which is very-US orientated. The information on the countries comes from the Lonely Planet organisation.
Overall Site Design
A little disappointing as there was confusion over what could be booked. Yahoo did not seem to make the most of the visual capabilities of the Web and the pathways were not always very clear. In fact, just as we were about to leave the site we spotted another travel reservations button. We clicked on this hyperlink and found ourselves transferred to Travelocity where there were icons to book air, car, hotel, vacation and cruises. Alas, there was a disclaimer that stated only people in the US and Canada could book.
Would we return to the Site?
No. At first sight yahoo.co.uk appears full of useful information and travel reservations, but in reality it has limited content and no instant on-line reservations functionality except for the UK accommodation section. The navigation was relatively straightforward and the response times were quick but overall we were confused as the site seemed to take us off on too many tangents.
We would only return if we had hours to spare on researching a trip or simply wanted to find or book a UK hotel.
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