21 October 2006

The great unwashed - the coming luddite rebellion

Travel 2.0 is here screams PhocusWright. Who what where??? In fact it isn’t here and nowhere near here.

What we have is in truth a fragmentation of the market that continues to fragment rather than improving the lot of the consumer. Travel 1.0 did a great job in automating the simple stuff - point to point even "dynamic packaging" which is in reality dynamic pricing is also pretty stable and usable. However step outside of the realm of anything normal and you end up in what used to be known politely as Hushunga. Travel 1.1 and 1.2 are not much better than Travel 1.0

From the perspective of the user - the service to know if I can get the lower fare with full information - it really doesn’t exist. Consider the following scenario.

I can see on Orbitz whether or not a flight has a seat map that I can use. IE SEATS AVAILABLE. However if I use the seat map on Orbitz I get crap results even if I am a 1K or Premier Exec member. On United.com I cannot see what the good seats are until AFTER I after I have purchased. So it results in a phone call to Res. Oh yes and where is that famous new whopi dido IBE they signed up for in 2004 from Datalex?

I fly a lot of international flights. Well guess what - that is a diabolical experience. I am really unsure which is worse - the call wait, the awful announcements and stupid Audiotex navigation or the complicated UI/UE. Really they all suck. Yet this is the primary interface for selling your product to the consumer. HEY AIRLINE ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION???

The Luddites are not happy. Consider the large and oft ignored high end and just plain unsure users. As you see adoption of online tapering off - we are now in saturation mode. IE the players are playing steal from each other or share shift rather than channel shift.

Yes friends AIRLINE AND TRAVEL WEBSITES all suck. Well most of them anyway.

So let’s hope that the powers that be are now going to pay attention and fix it. Make no mistake it’s going to be very hard. I don’t think we are going to see the solutions coming online for quite some time. At least another 3 years. In the mean time go with simple (if you want my advice). Think Southwest and Alaska. For multi-site shopping I love www.skyscanner.net. But they are all pretty bad or more likely incomplete.

Can we do better... yes. Lets at least try



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