Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Saving 50 quid here or there

Chatting about the lead feature for the April edition of Travolution, on the spiky subject of airlines and the prospect of them regaining much of their former power, recently led a contact to give a grim forecast for one area of the industry.

The so-called consolidators in the online travel world could be facing a far greater challenge than just battling one another for business, he said.

Not only will they have to contend with consolidation in their own market, as powerful travel conglomerates snap up the smaller players, but the airlines are flexing their considerable muscles and therefore put the squeeze on the consolidators.

This is not a new revelation, by any means, but an example he gave was an interesting one.

Take the Middle East giant Emirates, now one of the leading global airlines whose profile is set to become even bigger in the UK with its branding of the new Arsenal Stadium six months away, which also follows its successful sponsorship of the Chelsea football team.

Our own Mystic Meg said he recently searched the airline’s website for a particular inter-continental flight and found a pretty decent price.

But looking for the same flight on a variety of consolidator websites yielded some surprising results.

The same flight on all the other sites was at least £50 more expensive.

He went back and double-checked the details but eventually he was left with an obvious conclusion: if a user trusts a particular service why would they spend time trawling other websites looking for a decent price when often the actual supplier is – increasingly and significantly – undercutting the consolidators.

Clearly direct-selling is an area that must send a chill down the spines of some websites.

But all this is tied very closely to how the airlines market themselves, both off and online.

Search marketing and branding looks likely to become even more complicated and pervasive in the future, but our particular forecaster suggests: the airlines are coming back.

Kevin May, editor, Travolution

1 comment:

Catriona Campbell said...

It's true that price is important - and £50 is a substantial difference. However it is reasonable to assume that not all travellers are so price-conscious.
As a Behavioural Consultant specialising in Usability, I have noticed an increasing swell in the travel and leisure sector towards paying a bit more for a better "customer experience" both on and offline.

Catriona Campbell, Director Foviance.