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Consumer is king in online travel sector

17 May, 2007

There is strong evidence that the online travel sector is increasingly focusing on the consumer, according to travel website www.eyefortravel.com.

Prospective travelers, says the website, are exchanging more information and exercising greater influence over online content. Right from travel blogs to social networking, consumers are spurring change.

And, this trend is occurring at a time when the travel industry is undergoing massive structural reorganization.

The consolidation of the big four travel companies – Thomas Cook and MyTravel and also TUI and First Choice – emphasizes the enormous shift in the way travel is distributed, marketed and sold. With these big four focusing their attention on online service, competition in the online travel sector is set to intensify, according to www.eyefortravel.com

The next stage in the evolution of the online travel territory is most likely to be defined by the ability of a travel company to react to changes in consumer expectations and meet the needs of these sophisticated customers. Interestingly, these changes are not confined to a geographical region or specific demographic group and are predicted to spread across Europe – covering the most sophisticated as well as the least sophisticated users.

In the United Kingdom, 78% of people will search information about their holiday online while 63% will book part of their main holiday online, according to the Holiday Online Planning Report released by market research company Continental Research in 2007.

It has become clear from the number of social software initiatives announced by major travel suppliers and intermediaries that online travel consumer behavior has become sophisticated and that this trend is set to continue, the report says.

The report includes key questions such as: What do the travelers like and dislike about the current services available? How do they view user-generated content? What is the importance of loyalty schemes, price and brand in their buying decisions? Which online travel brands do these consumers recognize, like and buy from? How would these consumers, who are supposedly Web-savvy and mobile-savvy, like to use mobile phones in their buying process?

These and other such crucial questions will be discussed and analyzed at the Travel Distribution Summit to be held in London from May 23 to 24, 2007.

Participants at the meet will include Ian McCaig, CEO of Lastminute.com, Marc Charron, MD (Europe) of TripAdvisor, and the co-founders of the innovative travel social networking site WAYN.

EyeforTravel Research says it is in the process of developing a series of Consumer Snapshots, providing key insights into the buying cycles of the travel buyer.



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