Thursday, September 27, 2007

Reaching age groups must be done through better service

Our latest column in Travel Weekly:

We finally have a better idea as to how different age groups interact with travel brands on the Internet ­ and how they may well do so in the future.

The Travolution Generations project showed us, for example, that while older age groups are suspicious of social networking sites such as Facebook ­ this year's online darling ­ they are more than happy to spend hour upon hour browsing websites to find a deal.

Perhaps this is not surprising given the continued increase in the number of homes with broadband connections and the number of people with access to the web at work.

Nevertheless, some myths have been turned on their heads, such as how more than 40% of over 16 to 24-year-olds consult a travel agent before they book a holiday.

What the research also indicated is the desire of all age groups to extract as much useful information as possible about their trips, whether that is via comprehensive content on websites, knowledgeable people in call centres or staff in agencies.

Once again, customer service is still the most important aspect of any relationship regardless of the channel you find yourself working in.

The challenge, of course, for retail agencies is to capture consumers ­ whichever age group they fit into ­ at some point in the purchase cycle.

This may be an unwanted leap for many agency workers to comprehend, but the traditional high-street shop could be ­ in the future ­ just an information centre for consumers.

But this is not something of which agents should be scared. A multi-channel world means that we will all have to rethink how we target people in the future, regardless of their age.

Kevin May, editor, Travolution

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