Read the news and you’d think the web is moving at a zillion miles an hour. But have a look at 100 of Australia’s top travel websites – as I did this week – you’ll find yourself in the slow lane. Lots of Toyota Corollas, not a single Ferrari. Dependable yes. Exciting no.
Many of the larger sites in particular are getting blander rather than more interesting.
It’s as if the owners, like a teenager desperate to fit in, are scared of being being different.
So the result is that many sites look the same – especially the online travel agents – with identical features.
There is no discernible difference, nothing to engender loyalty, return business among the OTAs.
It’s not that most of the bigger travel transaction sites don’t do an adequate job.
But adequate does not a future make – especially when you are only selling on price because someone will always be cheaper.
This lack of differentiation is a big, burning issue, and surely a factor in the rise of travel meta-search sites where consumers are able to hunt for the website offering the best deal.
Some further observations include:
Speed is king. We’re all agreed on that. Then why are some websites, big ones even, so slow at times?
For example, on one occasion Webjet took 52 seconds to return results for a basic package (hotels and flight) search.
The Webjet package average was around 30 seconds, the quickest 22 seconds.
Similar searches on Expedia took between 14 and 23 seconds, still slow.
Live chat is on every second site. A little box will pop up asking if everything’s ok, can they help you (transact).
Clearly this is a strategy that’s working by increasing conversion rates for the sites in question. Can be a little annoying though.
Loyalty is something you have to earn.
But lots of sites are asking website visitors to sign up to their newsletter – featuring “exclusive deals” of course – before even allowing site access.
I found it a turn-off and not the best way to start your online shopping experience.
Perhaps it would be better to offer a discount, say 10%, off anything booked if the consumers signs up.
Black. Looks good on Goths. Not as a website background. So why then do certain cool brands persist.
Just to be different of course. But it just doesn’t work. Never will.