Archive for April, 2006
Here is a useful review of Travelocity’s site and the customer service they offer, which the writer considers superior to what’s offered on other travel sites. Why then, does she not understand that Travelocity can’t at the same time offer a lowest price guarantee?
Superior customer service has a cost and in the thin margin business of online travel it has to be paid for by someone. That someone, as in any other business,is the customer who in return gets a better product or service.
For some strange reason this simple economic fact seems to consistently escape the media covering the online travel industry. Every site is expected to offer the absolute lowest price. Not possible!
No serious journalist would expect that to be the case in other industries. Can you imagine an article praising the service and product choice of Neiman-Marcus but then complaining that the prices are higher than a Wal-Mart? OK, so why this constant complaint in online travel? It’s just beyond me.
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Travel agencies on the rebound. Is the kind of superficial story with a negative bent that seems to be the standard when the media covers travel. Instead of focusing on the fact that in the next two years or so more than 50% of all travel will be booked online, they write about a comeback for travel agents. It’s the same media that a few years ago predicted that all travel agents will go out of business because of the web. Well, that hasn’t happened and won’t, but we certainly won’t see a return to the number of agents we have seen in the past.
Some people will always book a vacation with a travel agent, especially if it’s a more complex trip, but the trend is undeniably to online where the customer experience will get better as new technology comes on stream that will enable companies to offer a much improved online travel planning and shopping experience on a single site. The generation that has always booked their trips will be even more convinced then, that this is the way to purchase travel.
So, yes there will always be experienced and educated travel agents around but in lesser numbers and handling a smaller marketshare than online players. And in true media fashion, they’ll still focus on the negative or controversial rather than writing a positive story about what’s really happening.
Oh, and another thing, online travel will not be all about the cheapest price, but about the buying experience backed up by 24/7 customer service. Maybe the media will even write about that!Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
This study about Reaching the Travel Audience produces some interesting statistics in favor of destination websites that are certainly positive and support the fact that DMO are well advised by building effective websites.
The conversion rate comparison to online travel sites, however, is the proverbial "apples to oranges" comparison. What’s measured on Expedia, Travelocity etc. is the actual product purchase. On the DMO sites it is future stay after having visited the destination website for information. Two entirely different activities. This is like comparing the return rate of a direct mail campaign to the purchase rate, which naturally is much lower.
Those destinations that are selling travel services on their own sites directly are probably showing rates of conversion from site visit to online purchase similar to those of online travel agencies.
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and more interesting thoughts on how tourism will develop by 2020 can be found in this study of future travel trends and behavior by the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute (GDI). This report
makes for fascinating and sometimes even worrisome, but always interesting reading. It was commissioned by Kuoni Travel, a leading European tour operator based in Zurich, Switzerland on the occasion of the company’s 100th anniversary this year.