Part 5: Five challenges on the journey to mastering travel inspiration
Challenge 5 – Engage endlessly:
I can think of more than one travel supplier that spent a lot of money establishing a proprietary social network only to see it languish because all of the effort went into building it, and not enough thought was given to nurturing it.
Inspiration is not easy because in order to keep people engaged it relies on compelling content.
As I implied in part two to the eVOC Insights study, content these days means incorporating user generated content – despite what the name suggests, that doesn’t just happen by itself.
Trends like social shopping are emerging, but the real challenge is not to jump on every new social bandwagon and instead look long and hard about what is a compelling proposition for the leisure travelers most at risk of defecting, and those that do not use your transactional site today but would if given the right experience around inspiration combined with a natural path towards booking.
The whole customer experience piece is crucial, and companies such as Likecube are trying to make travel sites more personal and using implied preference data to return more meaning search results.
Demdex is also working in the travel space, trying to improve airline website personalization.
“Our web page already has some features that recognise who you are and we put different content on the screen depending on who you are.”
This type of technology is starting to creep into various transactional sites, but it is absolutely essential in any decent inspiration website.
Following with the technology angle, Bob Offutt of PhoCusWright makes reference to the recent Facebook F8 conference where a number of new features were announced and said, “it is going to be extremely powerful as it aggregates the wisdom of crowds.”
Continuing with further reference to Facebook he said, “They will be very important in prioritizing destination.”
In some ways engaging endlessly is the most difficult challenge of them all, as it is the most far removed from the typical skills and experience that typically lie within the team managing a transactional supplier direct website.
The opportunity is large, and the risk of doing nothing is real, but this is definitely not a strategy that can be implemented solely with technology.
It may represent your best chance in a long time to reinvent travel search and fundamentally reposition your website ahead of your peers, but it is not something that can be solved entirely using one technology.
Technology may be the backbone, or the foundation, but success or failure will depend much more upon successfully passing these five challenges on your journey to mastering travel inspiration.
Martin Collings is a contributing Node to Tnooz and is currently employed as Vice President, Innovation Management & Commercialization at MasterCard Labs, based in Sydney. In this position he manages various mobile payments initiatives with his role covering the region of Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa.
Prior to MasterCard, Martin Collings spent six years with Amadeus IT Group, based in both Madrid and Chicago in a variety of airline roles, most recently as head of airline e-commerce sales for the Americas.
During his time at Amadeus he also wrote the Shearwater Blog covering various topics of interest for airline selling via direct channels. The views of Martin Collings are his alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of MasterCard.