as described in this article in strategy+business, the journal published by leading consultancy Booz, Allen & Hamilton, is one of the best overviews of the state of the online travel industry I’ve read in quite some time. link to PDF
It outlines very clearly the great challenges posed to today’s players and the technology improvements that are required to get to the next level and make the planning and purchasing experience more user friendly, relevant and less time consuming.
Today’s extreme price focus and simple transaction oriented reality needs to be replaced by a customer centric, brand enhancing, convenience focused approach resulting in much more relevant products and services being offered to online travel shoppers. This will require the innovative combination of social media / networking based search tools with technology investments to allow truly dynamic packaging functionality of all trip relevant elements.
As the article correctly states:
Winning over the travelers of the future will require technologies that, like human travel agents, can segment customers accurately and give them what they want.