21 February 2011

US OTA Transactions decline in January

There will be a fair amount of spin going on about this news.

ARC's January 2011 detailed breakdown of transactions shows a decline in Online Travel Agency activity when compared to last year.

After the significant jumps in 2010 over 2011 - we can expect a moderating level of activity but the fall was unexpected.

Clearly something is going on.

One can expect that with Orbitz and Expedia both making up a high percentage of the US OTA market and both having lowered or reduced activity on AA that there would be some effect. But I think that the fall is higher than I would have anticipated when compared to the over sectors of the market. (Corporate and general retail).

I think that the impact of the OTA's battle with AA and the resultant shift to meta search traffic sites such as Kayak and of course to AA direct is now becoming apparent.

Next month's traffic with things becoming stabilized will be an interesting statistic


20 February 2011

Priority and Focus - Top Tasks

This week's Gerry McGovern's Blog covers the issue of Top Tasks.

In travel websites are often a dog's dinner of competing issues. The bigger the site the crappier it gets. Defining the relative value of the top tasks actually helps define the priority for what goes onto the website. Worse the results from a search is often poor. Yes we should all 'fess up to the issues of bad cache and screwy results we have allowed in order to get speed.

In the early days of website design - we would try and make guesses for the consumers and then ask them what they thought of our guesses. Now we should clearly see what the top tasks are and they should always be on the website and available. There is nothing that you cannot add to the home page but don't forget your knitting and don't put obstacles in the way of the customer getting what he wants. Remember the reasons he arrived at the website in the first place. If you game him he will hate you for it.

One critical factor we are starting to see is that the abandonment rate for "fares promos" is growing. Its a slight trend. Mostly because consumers have been so trained to respond to fares and then going through the laborious process of matching a fare to availability. (Not to mention all the resultant failures and junk that comes with it because of the clunky way Air and other Travel products are managed).

In an App filled world this is not going to be tolerated. I believe we are going to see a shift towards better trusted results. Anyone not jumping on that bandwagon will be crushed. Speed vs Quality - tough choice?

You have been warned