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Bewitched by online travel?

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Yesterday I introduced this new series, Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered by Online Travel?  You’re not alone.    The whole thing came about on the set of Kathy Ireland’s Worldwide Business show when Kathy asked me about what was broken with the current online travel environment.

After all, online travel booking is so much easier than calling a travel agent (wait, is it?). And I am much more in control (wait, am I?). And it takes less time (wait, does it?).

Have you ever noticed that no one asks how you are getting to where you are going? Not online travel agencies or travel suppliers or come to think of it, even travel agents. They simply presume that we are flying. 

How do I know that? Well, when we search for a hotel, they don’t ask where we are starting or even our end destination.  They want to know what city we are magically landing in.

Why is that?

In 2011 Solutionz and Mandala Research fielded a syndicated study of the drive market known as Project 85, where we studied the behavior of travelers as it related to their mode of transportation. The “85” was because we believed it was at least 85% of all travel, based on statistics from the US Travel Association.

Did you know that it is actually 89 % of all overnight travelers that drive to their destination? 

So why do they presume that we are flying? 

Imagine what would have happened if Adidas had continued to sell their athletic shoes to just the professional athlete and had missed the weekend warrior, mom and kid markets? That is what the travel industry has persisted in doing by remaining air-centric. 

In fact, just recently I was talking to someone who talked about their initiatives outside of air ticket sales as “ancillary”. And a few years ago I had a discussion with the CEO of more than one GDS about the departments that to this day they still call “non-air”. And I cringe when I hear one of them talk about the “attachment rate” of hotel bookings to air tickets. It should be the other way around.

This brings to mind the first line of the Rogers & Hart song, Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered:

He’s a fool and don’t I know it,

And have you noticed that everyone on the home pages of travel sites are happy? They are on beaches and in warm mountain lodges with a fireplace and they are cruising the seven seas and visiting exotic ports of call.

And the song continues.

But a fool can have his charms

Stay tuned to learn why we should be bothered by the state of online travel booking.

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