Archive for November, 2005

Online travel booking conversion rates are improving

Posted on November 21, 2005. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Online travel booking conversion rates are improving.

While the number of Americans using the Internet appears to have reached a plateau, those who plan and book trips or vacations online continues to climb rapidly, according to a new study released by the Travel Industry Association of America.

The results of this research don’t surprise me at all. I’ve long advocated that as the web matures overall growth rates will decline but that the travel category will record above average increases as online travel websites become more sophisticated. This has happened, but much more needs to be done to make the online travel purchasing experience fast, easy and above all enjoyable.

Destination sites should take this result as a positive, with half the audience visiting their sites, but a the same time many should ask themselves why they still turn away this these visitors when it comes to the actual booking, rather than offering a one-stop shopping experience for visitors that often are ready to purchase.

This should be a no brainer and generate much needed revenue for DMOs that are chronically short of funding by their governments or local constituents.

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The focus starts to shift away from price….

Posted on November 15, 2005. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Latest News and Financial Information | – Travelocity
Latest News and Financial Information | – Expedia

"It’s about time…!"

These reports from the latest PhoCusWright Conference further signal a shift away from the exclusive focus on lowest price for travel services purchased online. The CEOs of the two major online agencies seem to realize that to remain competitive and keep expanding their marketshares, they need to offer a superior customer experience, combined with added value services to their customers.

In my opinion, this will have to include the sale of packages that go far beyond today’s limited offerings of simple single destination trips with some added local services.

What it will take, is a great online buying experience for dynamically packaged  and priced complete travel, including multi-destination trips. Only by offering this type of  flexibility and freedom of choice  online, using next generation technology, combined with great service enhancements, such as the ones mentioned by the Travelocity CEO, will online travelers see an advantage to use intermediaries vs. shopping for the lowest price for individual components on supplier sites.

It will be interesting to observe, how long it will take for this shift away from pure price focus to take place and what impact a vastly improved online planning and purchasing experience will have on the  traditional tour operator/travel agent landscape that today largely controls this distribution channel and how the online and offline world will converge.

One thing seems clear, the online players with their brand recognition and considerable financial resources to put into both technology and marketing are on the move and the game is on!



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More on online travel shopping

Posted on November 11, 2005. Filed under: Uncategorized |

iMedia Connection: How Consumers Use Online for Travel.

This article states some known facts that should be of interest also to DMOs. Travelers – especially boomers – are searching for destination content early on in the planning process. Why not offer them a compelling reason to purchase right there?

For online agencies the situation is crystal clear: offer added value and a superior one-stop shopping experience, or be further threatened by suppliers who increasingly sell the remaining components of the travel package right on their site as well.

Anyone can become an online travel agency and sell the entire trip right on their site! Welcome to an increasingly frictionless marketplace!

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A good question with a clear answer!

Posted on November 10, 2005. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Which way is the travel industry headed?.

Traditional travel agencies are struggling to stay relevant, online travel agencies are trying to instill loyalty among their customers, travel search engines are the new upstarts, travel suppliers are flexing their muscles and global distribution

The web has brought about a tremendous amount of reduction in market friction and the travel industry is the poster child of this development. The keys to survival are relevancy and added value.It doesn’t matter whether it’s a traditional offline travel agent or a large scale new online agency. Both are intermediaries and if they want to stay in business, they better offer relevancy and added value to customers.

It will be interesting to see how the market shares will play out over the next few years as the ability to book complex travel online with new technology tools will become a reality.

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But it will take more than that….

Posted on November 9, 2005. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Link: Online travellers gain the personal touch.

Travellers have grown accustomed to booking flights on the internet. But the relative ease of online booking belies the fact that planning and organising a trip is often still an arduous, time-consuming process.

The enhancements mentioned in this article are all fine and helpful, but the real culprit why online travel is less than an easy and pleasant experience lies not in the research stage. In fact there is often too much information available on all kinds of sites. The main problem lies in the inability of websites to take the online traveler all the way through the travel process of "Dream – Learn – Plan and Go" on one site and with multi-destination and services booking options.

New technology will be needed to enable customers to complete the entire sequence outlined on a single site. Once that is possible, the user experience will become more pleasant.

For the providers of these capabilities the advantages will be many, including the possibility of re-claiming pricing power by offering bundling of multiple service components dynamically by the user. This will also prevent their services being exposed to the price comparison engines that are fast leading to margin erosion for single components.

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The Online Travel Landscape Is Getting Crowded – New York Times

Posted on November 7, 2005. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Link: The Online Travel Landscape Is Getting Crowded – New York Times.

Not surprising. Confirms my own opinion expressed previously, that anyone can become a tour operator selling every travel component.

What is still missing though, is a company that offers a totally customer focused approach, allowing travelers to select individual components and combine them into a dynamic multi-destination package at the best bundled price.

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