April 11, 2013, 10:08 AM

Stalled on the tarmac: Some travel sites take too long to load

Timeout.com had 7.5 hours of downtime in the past 30 days, Uptrends says.

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Some travel web sites seem to be asking visitors to give up and depart. Among 102 travel-related web sites, social communities and destination guides monitored over the last 30 days by web performance technology vendor Uptrends, 16 were down for one hour or more, it says. The least accessible site, destination and lifestyle publication Timeout.com, was down for 7.5 hours during that period. Timeout.com provided no immediate comment.

Uptrends tested the accessibility of each web site—whether its home page loaded or instead returned an error message—from more than 100 points around the world between March 12 and April 10, it says.

The sites on average were up 99.91% of the time, which translates to 37 minutes of downtime apiece on average, Uptrends says. A few never failed at all: 35 travel sites were available 100% of the time during that 30-day period, the vendor says. Those top-performers included Hotels.com, Frommers.com, Bing.com/travel, Kayak.com, Priceline.com, Travelzoo.com, Hotwire.com and Oyster.com.

Uptrends considers an average uptime below 99.89% as poor performance, it says, and 19 of the sites fell below that standard. The 25 least available sites, with a collective uptime of 99.68%, were down for 2 hours and 15 minutes on average during the period under review, it says.

While completely unavailable web sites would certainly drive away customers, so can web pages that take too long to load. An analysis released last month of 2,000 e-commerce sites by vendor Radware found that home page load times slowed by 22% from December 2011 to December 2012, from a median load time of 5.94 seconds to a median time of 7.25 seconds. That’s more than double what Radware says is a typical web visitor’s tolerance of three seconds. Radware says that the overall slowdown in load times may stem from an increase in the number of HTTP server requests to load individual web pages as retailers load more elements on their pages.

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