The stakes are higher now

Posted on March 9, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Getting Less Satisfaction Online is what online travelers are saying in this survey. This statistic is not surprising as the demands on travel services providers by today’s savvy travel shoppers are higher than ever before as more and more tools are at their disposal to research, plan and buy travel. The days when a site could just have an easy home page with a box that asks where do you want to fly and when are over. This same air ticket purchasing box is now literally on thousands of sites including those of the media travel sections.

It is still, and will always be, about added value for anyone that is an intermediary between supplier and buyer. In the travel industry that applies to both the major online agencies and to the small independent agent. For the latter it has taken decades to become threatened, for the former only about seven years. That’s how technology speeds things up.

To stay relevant these intermediaries have to offer ever increasing added value rather than ever lower price. The latter is now being offered by suppliers themselves on their own sites. One key element of this added value is the capability to offer the entire vacation buying experience from planning to purchasing on their websites. Now, that is easier said than done as the technology required to do all this easily. including the tool for the user to dynamically self-package their trip, is not yet available. Of course, multiple components can today be combined and purchased as a so called dynamic package but as soon as it gets more sophisticated, as in multiple destination combinations the sites fail their user. With this kind of buying experience increasingly expected but not offered by online players, it is not surprising to see the results this survey shows. Also, the technology required to enable a much enhanced travel buying experience online is much more complex than what an Amazon or Barnes & Nobles require to sell their products online, or an E*Trade needs to allow online stock trading and banking.

It will be interesting to observe the real progress being made in this area rather than the hype. The low hanging fruit has been picked, now it gets tougher to play the game. Welcome to the new world of Travel 2.0

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