Friday, August 03, 2007

Web 2.0? Consolidation? No, it's customers

Here is a column for Travel Weekly from a few weeks back, which apparently generated some interest (can't track down the Letter of the Week in TW in response to it):

The editor of Travel Weekly and I recently attended one of those industry events that journalists often love and hate in equal measure: a debate restricted by the dreaded Chatham House rules.

Assembled in the room of a top London hotel was a venerable Who’s Who of the industry travel – every area of the industry was represented, old and new.

“Chatham House Rules” dictate that we were not allowed to report on who said what during the evening. Disappointing, but fair enough.

But the restriction on us as editors, therefore, means that the conversations were frank and extremely interesting.

Operators and agents explained strategies and predicted the future. Some of it was rather grim, much of it was upbeat.

At one point during the discussions, however, after plenty of talk about bed and air stock, retail and online distribution points, one attendee reminded everyone why they were there: customers, customers, customers.

Travolution is guilty as everybody else for often harping on about the latest web-based tools or technology, a new meta search engine or niche operator with a fancy website.

But as soon as travel companies forget the very reason for their existence – to provide an excellent service to the customer – they are effectively fighting a losing battle.

This is more relevant now than ever. As margins tighten and concerns grow about the economy in 2008, ensuring you provide the best possible customer experience is going to be vital.

A multi-channel world means there are more “touchpoints” than ever with the consumer. The web may have opened up choice to levels never seen in the industry before – but it also means you really do have to get the basics absolutely right.

Kevin May, editor, Travolution

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1 comment:

DBFS Travel Blogger said...

As margins tighten and product differentiation becomes difficult surely the smart application of appropriate technology is the most effective way to support brand and remain competitive?