Published on Thursday, August 2, 2007

European travel companies lagging behind in Web 2.0 adoption

Travel companies that streamline the usability of their websites will be the winners in the future.

That is the conclusion of a study of websites run by European travel businesses which found that many have been slow to fully embrace the internet.

The 12 companies are not named in the report by marketing services and IT strategy firm Sapient but TUI and were highlighted as starting to experiment with Web 2.0 while hotels and airlines could benefit from adopting the same best practice.

The report suggests that travel firms need to incorporate more Web 2.0 technologies into their websites, capitalise on mobile services, improve cross-selling opportunities, present information in different languages and improve and increase website search tools and help features for users.

The Reality of Online Innovation report says that many travel companies have been slow to fully embrace the internet.

Customer loyalty to a website increases if there are tools that consumers can use to personalise their access to the site, according to the report.

Sapient business consulting director Stefan Hirsch said: “The online travel market is highly competitive and the consumer is in charge for one simple reason – they have the ability to switch from one agency to the next in juts a few clicks if they do not like what they see.

“To win and retain customers, travel businesses must strive to get an edge over the competition, however slight – not just with the range of products they offer but also with their services.

“Those businesses that tap into the best new features and streamline the overall usability of their websites will ultimately prevail.”  

by Phil Davies

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  • Let's get the basics right first

    I would agree that 'Web 2.0' is a much-hyped and at best loosely defined term. In terms of interaction, of course some level is ideal - but for a tour operator or airline, for eg, I would question what value blogs etc add. As an industry with potentially a very complicated itinerary, we already struggle with the more basic features - content management, search technology etc. It would make sense to focus on these areas first. I think customers would be more impressed with easily navigated, accurate and engaging content than additional interactive features. Not to mention cost and the brand management issues raised by user generated content.

    By Tara Bradberry, Thursday, August 9, 2007

  • Web 2.0? It's what you make it.

    I think this report oversimplifies the concept of 'Web 2.0', a term fast becoming an overused clich. The spread of features and ideas that have earned the tag 'Web 2.0' has been evolving over the past few years. The huge success of encouraging user-generated content can be seen across many sites - we've had active photo albums and forums on our site for several years. And to look at this from the other side, the inclusion of a blog or other Web 2.0 feature is no guarantee of quality (have you read some of them?) To suggest that only TUI and lastminute are embracing new ways of doing things online does a disservice to other companies who are finding their own ways of opening themselves up through their websites and allowing customers to interact with them (and each other) more freely.

    By Clive Andrews, Thursday, August 2, 2007

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