Thursday, December 06, 2007

Shift happens

Our latest column in Travel Weekly:

Travolution used a keynote address at the ABTA Convention last week to highlight the problems travel companies face with user experience on their websites.

This broad generalisation was deliberate in order to appeal – or not – to a wide cross-section of different interests at the event.

Understandably not everyone would have agreed with our conclusions: that the industry needs to match the fundamental changes in consumer behaviour with better functionality and user experience and in order to meet their increasingly needy requirements.

Research published recently by US-based group Forrester indicates that that despite an increase in traffic to online travel sites, the number of bookings remains static or is falling in some cases.

This is primarily because users are poorly served either by the quality of information they receive online or what they are able to do with it.

The types of sites web users are now flocking to in recent years (multimedia, social networking) illustrate a shift in how people now want to use the internet.

Five of the top ten sites in the UK are in this category.

For example, exactly two years ago Amazon was a top ten website in the UK, according to Hitwise. It is now in 19th position, but no one really suspects it is selling fewer books – quite the contrary.

This shift in usage is beginning to have an impact on travel (the most popular travel-related website is now Google Maps), and will only increase.

Travel companies must be ready for this change and be prepared to position themselves as multi-channel operations, serving consumers in as many ways the customer needs in order to research and book products.

For too long the travel industry has made a bold assumption that it knows how to reach its customers.

It is now the other way round. Consumers know exactly how they want to reach travel providers and interact with them – and, most importantly, with one another.

[Join the debate]

Kevin May, editor, Travolution

1 comment:

Zorba CafeSpeak said...

Cool Article. I particularly like the bit about "For too long the travel industry has made a bold assumption that it knows how to reach its customers.

It is now the other way round. Consumers know exactly how they want to reach travel providers and interact with them – and, most importantly, with one another."

I think its about time customers took the reins of their holiday planning into their own hands.

Zorba CafeSpeak http://www.cafe-speak.blogspot.com

Zorba-the-greek@hotmail.com