Archive for March, 2006

Happy Birthday!

Posted on March 21, 2006. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Travelocity celebrates a decade of online travel.

Travelocity employees are pausing today to say thanks to the people around the world who have taken them on the trip of a lifetime over the last 10 years: their customers.

How time flies – I still remember the Travelocity launch party in Manhattan and the excitement of seeing a totally new way of buying travel develop. Both the company, and the travel industry as a whole, have come a long way in these past ten years and the travel landscape has undergone a complete change and will certainly continue undergoing even more radical change as technology and the tools it produces are introduced into the marketplace by innovators.

What I personally regret about the state of online travel, is the continuing focus almost exclusively on lowest price. It is perhaps understandable, as the first products sold online were airline tickets, a commodity item nobody wants to pay more than absolutely necessary. This purely price based differentiation was further perpetuated in almost every media story about online travel in the past ten years. I still remember the blank stares I received from analysts and reporters back in 2000 trying to convince them of the advantages of a packaged product bundle, ideally self-designed by the online travel shopper, when the company I worked for first introduced dynamic packaging in the marketplace.

I applaud Travelocity for its recent efforts in moving the discussion to one of added value and customer service. It is essential for continued, profitable growth in the industry, to get the message across to the traveling public that the old rules of "you get what you pay for" and "if it sounds too good to be true, stay away" apply when it comes to travel.

Gazing in the proverbial crystal ball, let’s hope when the 20th anniversary comes along, the discussion will be focused on who offers the most pleasant buying experience, ease of use website and greatest customer service, rather than  where can I get ten bucks off an airline ticket….!

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This is bloody hilarious!

Posted on March 10, 2006. Filed under: Uncategorized |

UK Tourism Ad Ban Comical: Australia’s Tourism Minister.

Australia’s Tourism Minister has labeled the banning of the word ‘bloody’ by the British TV advertising regulator (Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre) as comical as exactly the same ad will appear in cinemas, in print and online in the UK.

As I’ve written in my earlier post on this campaign, kudos to the Aussies for breaking out of the endless monotony of tourism destination advertising. It’s full of me too arguments. The key is "authenticity". Destinations have to accept that they are what they are and focus on USPs. It’s tough if you don’t truly have any, but Australia does, and they are easily recognizable by potential travelers, so yes push them.

Of course, the bloody tagline won’t go down easy in Japan, but I’m sure there’s some unique Aussie attribute that can be used in that market to get the point across.

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Why not: How to be a “smarter” online travel shopper

Posted on March 8, 2006. Filed under: Uncategorized |

How to be a better online travel shopper.

The travel consultant for Consumer Reports WebWatch shares the lesson he learned while analyzing more than 200 travel sites and overseeing extensive testing projects that encompassed searching for thousands and thousands of online rates.

Here’s what’s wrong in my opinion about all these consumer media advice columns about online travel shopping: It’s all about "price, price, price" and "the lowest fare", "the deal". Admittedly, no one wants to overpay for anything, least of all a commodity like an airplane seat. But when it comes to one of the most valued purchases, a personal vacation trip, it definitely pays to heed the advice that "you get what you pay for" and bottom fishing for the lowest deal on one of the hundreds of sites, often results in a bad deal.

Why don’t these consumer advocates advise people to go safe and buy with a trusted brand, even if it means paying a bit more but getting peace of mind in return. After all, it’s your precious vacation we’re talking about not buying some daily household item.

Also, why not encourage websites to focus on improvements and enhancements that make the online travel shopping experience less time consuming and tedious with multiple site searches, all for a few bucks savings. It would be more in the consumer’s interest if there was less price and more quality focus, giving online travel providers an incentive to invest in new technology to offer this better shopping experience, rather than focus on how to cut everything to the bone, to a point, where everything is stripped out of the component price to "appear" to be cheapest and then adding it back in later in the purchase process, again leading to customer confusion and disappointment.

The media travel critics could play a much more useful role by focusing on these aspects and move away from reinforcing the mis-perception that online travel is all about price, price, price….

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A sign of progress…

Posted on March 7, 2006. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Online Travel Sites Feeling Pressure.
This development of traffic shift from intermediaries to suppliers is a sign of progress in the online travel market. Intermediaries will have to focus more on value add than the sale of components at razor thin or non-existend margins by offering a superior one-stop shopping experience to attract clients.

The commodity game is over and new technologies will be required to allow increasingly web savvy travel shoppers to design their own complete vacation trips on one website rather than spending hours chasing from supplier site to supplier site in search of the right combination of components to purchase individually or settle for a pre-packaged vacation like in the days before the web.

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They better be on it…!

Posted on March 3, 2006. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Travel agents on the web trail.

As high-street travel agents rapidly lose market share to their internet rivals, they must bring an online element to their offering if they are to play a part in fulfilling consumers’ dreams.

In the U.S. the web is already the first choice for travel research and booking of air travel, with the share of online booking of what is termed complex vacations on the increase. As new technology is introduced that allows customers to self-design their multi-destination trips this trend will rapidly accelerate.

As online travel agents are moving away from selling commodity components to more revenue producing packages, they will increase pressure on  traditional tour operators such as First Choice to sell their product online. It is only a matter of time until the already blurred line of online  and offline travel purchasing will disappear altogether.

Customers are increasingly channel agnostic and just purchase travel in the easiest way possible.

 

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Destination sites are sitting on a goldmine.

Posted on March 3, 2006. Filed under: Uncategorized |

MSN Travel relaunched, more resources at consumers’ fingertips.

In an MSN survey, consumers were asked what types of information they would consider most useful when researching and/or booking their vacation plans, and 71 percent chose "research/guides with information about what to do and see."

(more…)

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Poking around the web!

Posted on March 2, 2006. Filed under: Web/Tech |

Everyoneisanexpert
describes in his inimitable style what’s happening today when most people use the web to search or in his words “pokes around” the web to find answers, and how true!

Read this and understand what’s coming down the road and how the web truly keeps changing and adapting to user behavior. Exciting stuff that’s happening for marketers, frustrating too, but for those ready to experiment and try out what works a great new world of doing business.

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“So Where The Bloody Hell Are You?”

Posted on March 2, 2006. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Good question! And yes, there’s only one destination that can actually ask you this way – and it’s the Aussies.

TOURISM AUSTRALIA is launching an audacious ad campaign using the tag line “So Where The Bloody Hell Are You?” The campaign will be launched March 7 with a week of promotional activities followed by print and TV ads. In formulating the campaign, the agency invested $6.2 million in the past 18 months on in-depth market research during which it interviewed 47,000 tourists around the world. The research showed that past promotional efforts have succeeded in generating a high level of awareness; however, what is now needed is for the awareness to be converted to actual travel. The new, more aggressive campaign is designed to accomplish that.

The tag line should certainly gain them attention for their message. Whether it converts that awareness into actual visitors is another question altogether. Like their Hogan commercials in the past, it will increase brand awareness, which has made Australia #1 on the wish list of many travelers, but the majority of them have not actually taken the trip.

That’s where other major factors, such as distance and pricing come into play. Let’s face it, for many it’s a “bloody long way” to get to that place and enjoy the shrimp on the barbie….! And that, my Aussie friends, will remain a formidable barrier to overcome, even with a spend of $ 6 million plus on market research alone, which by the way, in my days in destination marketing would have been more like the overall budget to execute the campaign. That’s how lucky you – or is it the ad agency! – are to be able to get the message out to the market.

Good luck and report back on the success in three years or so……

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Another step in the right direction

Posted on March 2, 2006. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Travelocity to staff hospitality desks on cruise ships

This is a forward looking move, adding value to the customer experience and differentiates the company on service rather than price. It also makes the online travel company look more like the traditional tour operators of old, many of whom have offered customer support at destinations or during trips for a long time.

It follows the company’s announcement earlier this week about another customer support effort along similar lines. They’ve come a long way from their start ten years ago – yes, it’s that long already!

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