Of course, the fact that with 90% the number one desired travel website feature is “being able to check the lowest fares/rates” is no longer a surprise but, to me, at least, this is just one more indicator of the dire straits online travel intermediaries are facing in such a scenario.
With this extreme price focus, no one relying on a commission or a fee for the sale of a travel component can profitably stay in business. It’s a continuing downward spiral, not the least because many suppliers of these services have by now established themselves as the direct provider of choice for online bookings.
According to this study, even the addition of some new features on intermediary website will not be enough to generate customer loyalty. So, what’s left?
One alternative is to generate advertising revenue, but that only works for the top sites with strong brand recognition and wide reach to generating huge traffic. The second, and in my opinion next logical one, is the online sale of complex multiple destinations travel products to independent travelers. This kind of upscale travel is the last segment to truly move online. It will require sizable investments in new technology and a web user interface that is truly customer focused and super easy to use. The combination of low price with some of the now lower ranked additional features will then become important differentiators.
Otherwise, a future headline might well read – Looking, looking, gone…..!