Five ways to make online travel sites better

Published in association with Global Reviews, the report looks at ways travel sites are enabling users to search for and book products and services, while minimising abandonment rates.

The following lists some of its recommondations:

1. Enable customers to choose how to sort results when they first start a search.

Customers will often choose to sort by price, but other options are useful, such as star ratings of hotels, departure times, direct flights and so on. Allowing customers to sort these features in their initial search will make the process smoother later on.

2. Do not allow customers to select dates or times which occur before which a booking can be made.

An obvious one – but many sites still allow users to search for tickets and holidays that are too late to book and only inform them once the booking process starts. To avoid this, state clearly when bookings can be made.

3. Pre-empt customers’ choices of travel dates.

For example, if a customer selects a departure date for a flight in October, and the return date doesn’t default to the same month, the customer then has to click through the calendar to October or input the date. That’s annoying.

4. Allow customers to restrict searches to weekends or long weekends.

Many sites will allow customers to book flights and hotels three days either side of their selected date. However, many customers want to travel on a weekend only, so a more useful choice may be plus or minus three weekends.

5. Prevent people from entering nonsensical dates.

Make sure customers cannot enter a return date that is before the departure date. Otherwise, you’ll get the blame

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Latest Trends in European Travel and Tourism Services

Regional and Tourism Research Center of Denmark has released the report which highlight the latest trends for online travel in Europe.

According to the report, Online travel sales increased by as much as 31% from 2005 to 2006 and reached EUR 38.3 billion in the European market in 2006 – or 15% of the market. A further increase of about 22% during 2007 to about EUR 46.8 billion may be expected.

Few important facts

The UK remains the largest online travel market in Europe, with Germany in second place. These two markets accounted for 54% of the EUR 38.3 bn. European online travel market in 2006.

  • Growth high also during 2006, 31%, and a further increase of 22% may be expected during 2007.
  • The European online travel market (including the ten new EU member countries) may reach EUR 54.8 bn. by 2008, which is about 21% of the total market for selected travel and tourism services.

Get the full report here. 

Book your ticket from your Mobile

Portaga, a travel technology company has developed a new tool “TripSync”  for business travelers which enables them to book air, hotel and car reservations from mobile devices.

And both the TripSync booking tool and the new application, TripSync Mobile, will soon end using Sabre for inventory access and will transition to Galileo, according to a Portaga spokeswoman.

Both TripSync applications integrate with Microsoft Outlook, enabling groups of travelers at a corporation to view and coordinate itineraries through the e-mail calendar.

Portaga conceded that mobile booking “is not a money maker,” but a convenience for business travelers who might need to rebook a flight or reserve a room because of a changed itinerary during a business trip.

TripSync doesn’t charge booking fees, but travelers are subject to customary airline change fees if they modify flights.

Amadeus up in online travel agency market share for Europe

Amadeus held the largest online travel agency market share in Western Europe in 2006 with 64.2% – an increase of 12.9 percentage points from 2005. The company also grew its online travel agency business in Asia Pacific and reached 19.9% market share in December 2006 compared with an average of 9.0% market share during 2005.

In India, Amadeus recently announced that four online travel agencies have chosen Amadeus technology: Indiatimes, MakeMyTrip, Sify and Yatra.

Amadeus’ continued success is based on the identification of the specific needs in the online travel agency segment and the company has developed and offers a unique suite of products and services to satisfy these requirements. One of the key elements in the Amadeus offer is the suite of low fare search solutions; during 2006 Amadeus launched Master Pricer Calendar, the only worldwide calendar display on the market. This innovative solution allows consumers to easily view a range of international flight and price options from multiple airlines in a calendar format.

“Our strategy is to provide online travel agencies with the best content and technology and we believe that our clear lead in Europe is confirmation that we are succeeding. Looking ahead, we plan to build on our success in Europe to take advantage of opportunities in the fast-growing Asia Pacific market,” says Gillian Gibson, Vice President, Amadeus Multinational Customer Group.

Yahoo comming up with better travel site

Yahoo has taken a giant step towards the development of Travel Industry. Yahoo! has decided to enhance its travel site by offering travel suggestions based on deals that others have been finding on the site.

The Trip Recommendations feature claims that it’s not eating your cookies. Rather than base vacation tips on your interests, it is aggregating the surfing habits of others. That’s certainly a win for privacy advocates, though it may result in less than ideal getaway pitches.

If you are an online travel site like Travelocity, Cheapoair or Priceline, these are the things that worry you, although it doesn’t seem like much of a threat at first. Yahoo! is ultimately feeding its leads to the travel specialists.

Airlines beat hotels in natural search visibility

Online travel agencies significantly outpaced traditional hotel/resort companies in natural search visibility, according to a new study. Of the top 100 highest ranking sites, 63% were online travel agencies, demonstrating their importance and prominence in the overall travel industry.

Digital marketing agency iCrossing announced the results of the “Search 500 Index: Travel.” The “Search 500 Index” is a study series measuring the visibility of Fortune 500 companies among people who search online.

The “Search 500 Index: Travel” finds that Fortune 500 travel companies in general have adequate natural search visibility on the major search engines, based on 110 travel-related keywords that iCrossing has determined online searchers are most likely to use. However, the study did find that there is room for improvement within certain segments of the travel industry.

“Natural search visibility” refers to the non-sponsored (non-paid advertisement) position of a company’s brand, products and services resulting from a user searching with a keyword relevant to that company’s brand, products and services on an Internet search engine such as Google, Yahoo!, MSN, Ask.com or AOL. Beyond driving direct sales, high natural search visibility can be critical to building awareness, positioning, and protection of a company’s brand both online and offline.

Source: Hotelmarketing.com

Five more Communities under TripAdvisor Umbrella

TripAdvisor, LLC, the world’s largest travel community and an operating company of Expedia, Inc. has acquired Smarter Travel Media, operator of smartertravel.com and bookingbuddy.com; SeatGuru.com; TravelPod.com; and Travel-Library.com. The new community sites grow TripAdvisor’s audience to more than 24 million monthly visitors, according to comScore Media Metrix.

“TripAdvisor has built a very successful media business with user- generated content as our core and returned remarkable revenue growth and best- in-class profit margins,” said Stephen Kaufer, founder and CEO of TripAdvisor. “By acquiring a number of other travel media companies, we expect to apply our learnings over the past seven years to fuel similar growth across all of these great consumer brands and active travel communities.”

Kaufer added, “These are strong, profitable standalone businesses, run by talented travel industry experts. Our acquisition strategy is to build on their success, while capitalizing on obvious efficiencies, but not to mess with sites that appeal to travelers and suppliers and advertisers alike. We expect the businesses to operate independently and continue to prosper.”