At the age of 25, I finally made it to Walt Disney World this past weekend! Outside of experiencing the wrath of Tropical Storm Faye, technical difficulties with the roller coasters, and the hibernation of the beloved Disney characters, it was an unforgettable experience. As I roamed the streets of Disney with my husband, I was fascinated by the English accents that I was surrounded by. It seemed that everywhere we turned; we were meeting people from England- probably due to the decline in the value of the Dollar. As I considered that for a moment, I wondered how each visitor actually booked their vacation. My husband and I booked our hotel online, but called and actually spoke to a customer service representative to purchase the tickets to Magic Kingdom. Did everyone else book their vacation this way as well? How is the online travel industry changing?
According to EMarketer, this year’s online US travel sales will reach $105 billion, a 12% increase from 2007. Yet, it appears that people’s online booking habits are changing. Fewer people are choosing to book their vacations directly through an online booking engine. With the boom of travel sites such as Expedia, the online traveler was in search of the lowest price. It wasn’t about loyalty to a particular online travel agency; it was all about which engine could offer the lowest price. In today’s economy, the lowest price is often a deciding factor, but the value of great customer service is still priceless. As we see the online travel industry expand, the importance of merging customer service with the convenience of the online booking engine is vital to growth.
I predict that we will see more travel sites such as www.tripadvisor.com appear. Trip Advisor has been a great success, due to its unbiased customer feedback. I also predict that we will see new travel sites emerge, such as www.tripology.com. Tripology allows you to set your destination and desires for your vacation. It then puts you in contact with a travel specialist who can find you the best deal.
If you are in the travel industry, there is no better time to start making improvements to your site. The site should be user friendly, the content should be fresh, but most importantly the site should offer booking convenience and customer service. If it doesn’t, the visitor will go elsewhere. I recommend incorporating a “Live Chat” into your site to give your visitor the option of communicating with someone directly. I also recommend having a blog or forum to give your customers the chance to provide feedback.
A change is happening in the online travel industry. Are you on board?
We are all feeling the affects of the lagging economy and soaring gas prices, and short term may bring more of the same. Families are adjusting their vacation plans, reducing the number of visits to their favorite restaurants, and even cutting corners at the supermarket. In tough times such as these, individuals are always looking for money saving deals.
As with most industries, online retailers are feeling the pinch of the tough economy. The typical family has cutback their spending in this category, and they are searching for deals.
Consumers are increasingly going online to find deals, and they are leveraging comparison shopping sites to find them. Some of the top sites include: Nextag, Pricegrabber, Bizrate, Shopzilla, Google Product Search, and Yahoo Shopping. If you are selling products online, and don’t currently advertise with this marketing channel, I highly recommend you start. These sites make it fairly easy to submit your product list feed and pricing is reasonable compared to the typical ROI.
If you have any questions on getting started with Shopping Feeds, please call us at 800-787-0497.
Can you remember the days when you automatically reached for a phone book to find a doctor, or called “411” to make dinner reservations? Whatever the case, those were the good ole’ days, and for many of us, those days are long gone. Think about it for a moment, when was the last time you did not utilize the internet in some fashion to retrieve this type of information?
Nowadays, the vast majority utilizes the internet to locate a doctor, as well as make dinner reservations. It is just too simple not to! Even the most non-techincal of searchers knows how to use search engines like Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc. to find exactly what they are looking for. That being said (in most cases) the more savvy the searcher, the more savvy the path to gather the information. Case in point…I recently took a trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina with some friends. Unfortunately, my friend’s mother was feeling under the weather. I grabbed by blackberry to do an online search for the nearest doctor. Simultaneously, another friend texted Google from her cell phone, while another used her laptop. Last but not least, the patient (AKA my friend’s mom) went straight for the phone book. It was quite comical how we were all trying to beat the other to retrieve the information and it is truly amazing just how much is at our fingertips. At the end of the impromptu “search contest”, we were all able to find what we were looking for, even though the paths to get there differed slightly! That being said, I (of course) won the contest!
This experience reinforces the fact that online marketing today is not only important; it is vital. If you are a marketer and/or retailer and are not found online, you could be missing out on many lucrative opportunities to gain new customers, patients, clients, revenue, etc. In a nutshell, the internet is a huge marketplace and not being seen online is NOT an option!