Friday, January 12, 2007

Ding, ding, time to make some changes

Despite all the hoopla and savvy PR, it turns out that today's leading travel sites offer fundamentally the same, boring user experience for the booking portion of their sites.

Such is the observation of technology research firm PhoCusWright, which found that “Essentially, consumers have launched their browsers expecting inspiring travel planning, only to be disappointed by seeing largely the same thing that they've had online for four or five years now”.

One result is that there's little loyalty in online travel buying, even though the online travel industry is now over seven years young. Three in ten online travellers don't have a single site that they prefer for travel purchase, and a vast majority, 68%, have numerous preferred sites.

Sensing this and eager to create loyalty, suppliers and travel distributors have gotten smart. Realizing that the browser may not be the ideal medium to derive consumer loyalty, they've built tools to go beyond it.

"Ding" from Southwest Airlines is one such product. In the three years since launching Ding, Southwest has clinched more than one million users that actively have the product open and are using it on their desktop everyday.

Ding belongs to a category known as branded desktop applications (BDAs). Ohers hail from Travel Alberta, Vail Resorts, and most recently Expedia. But there are other examples of going beyond the browser. One is AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). With AIM, by selecting "kayakbuddy" (provided by Kayak) as a chat buddy, you can search for flight and hotel prices, right from your IM window without even opening the browser.

Who knows what those clever people will think of next.

Tricia Holly Davis, Chief Writer, Travolution

1 comment:

Edd said...

Finding travel content through Instant messaging is available in the UK too (Kayak is only US-based at the moment). If you add InsideMessenger (chat@insidemessenger) to your Windows Live Messenger or Yahoo! Messenger contact list and start a conversation, then using the keyword fly will allow you to do a flight search on eBookers if your departure city is based in the UK.

I suggest that you use the keyword interactive whilst logged into Windows Live Messenger - this only has video and game content at the current time, but will eventually be adapted to work alongside the travel results.

Edd @ InsideC