Revenues from online travel booking have grown by over 73% in the last 5 years. Almost 40% of all tour and activity bookings are being made online, out of which, 60% of leisure and 41% of business travelers make their own travel arrangements, generally via Internet.
Leisure travelers prefer to take roughly one holiday trip in about 6 months, Business travelers travel about thrice for work in 6 months, and the Affluent ones(who have a household income of $250k+) take at least one trip for leisure in 6 months.
The most common things these travelers are willing to spend more on include – Sightseeing (53%), Special dining experiences (41%), Accommodation (41%), Activities (35%), and Shopping (24%), as a treat.
Overall, there are three things that travelers want the most from travel search and shopping platforms:
So before travelers begin, they already have some anchor decisions made like, who’s going, where, when and why, brands, budget, preferences, etc…
According to a survey, 34% of the travelers agree that online travel companies have nailed down the basics of search and shopping, while over 53% still believe that it needs to be improved more.
Furthermore, they want their travel search and shopping experience to be more centralized (25%), personalized (24%) and comprehensive (23%).
Hence, what they need from the internet (travel website) is to discover options for transportation, lodging and activities within those constraints, and so on. Sadly, not many travel ecommerce solutions have taken these wants of tech-savvy travelers seriously yet.
Online travel agents (OTA’s) and meta-search sites do a poor job of qualifying hotels, and sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp are not much of help either, for there are dozens of reviews about each place.So, unless the restrictions are exactly defined (e.g. what you want and where you want, etc.), the traveller is forced to do a lot of research on many sites, before coming to a conclusion.
Once, you’re done with the tiring task of research, and are ready with some “maybe’s”, you are hit with another difficulty that, these travel sites/apps are optimized for conversion, not for planning. So tools like “saving for later / sharing / comparing” are basically non-existent, forcing you to turn to Excel / Word / Google Doc, etc. to manage these lists and share over email with your co-travelers.
Various things have led many product entrepreneur’s to conclude that “anything that makes Search, Collection and Sharing better and more effective, is a step in the right direction!
Hence, if you notice, the recent travel start-ups are all about…
……..and so on!
Even if we consider that your product, R&D and execution are perfect, and bang on, and you have built the ultimate travel planner / travel content site for a larger mass, but there are many other factors that can lead to your start-ups demise.
And guess what — if they’re not planning a trip, they don’t need you! They don’t even acknowledge their existence…
Everyday consumers are bombarded by dozens of new websites / apps / brands. But they filter from what’s more relevant to them. At that point!
Moreover, around 46% of the travelers of a survey said they prefer to stick to only two or three travel websites when purchasing online.
(Which means a lot of advertisements. And its costs!)
And social media doesn’t help here either. Research indicates that 50% of travelers don’t prefer to use it for travel search or shopping.
You know, the Priceline Group spends over $2 billion per year on Google Ads alone. Take a guess why?
And yet, no matter how much exposure you get, it will only register in their minds, when the information / product is relevant to them.
Now, let’s assume that all the aforementioned factors fall in place!
Then starts another drill of maintaining the customer, and making sure that they do not leave you in the middle!
From – teaching a brand new (your) way to plan the trip, to getting them to booking…….you need to walk them through a method that is different from anything that they have used, based on trusting you over established brands, before they start finding options for your platform.
And even if you do manage to influence their decision, and got them to book through your site, you will collect an “affiliate commission”
Who pays you the commission?
Mostly, it’s that same OTA you were competing with over the user’s attention (because they hold much more inventory than you and you lease it from them). And obviously, they pay it out of their own commission, which is worth twice as yours.
And it’s not difficult to understand that when time comes to promote the brand, the bigger brand will end up squashing the smaller one!
Hence, competing with your affiliate parent for the same end-user is not a great strategy.Especially, when the user is aware of both!
To start a travel business, and offer it long-term stability one ought to work immensely on the pre-planning of their start-up. Besides the business plan, funds and resources, you will require the grit to deal with odds of every changing tastes of tech savvy travelers as well as the abundance of travel tools and applications at hand. The biggest challenge amid this would be to offer the best customer experience.
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