Tesco.com chief executive Laura Wade Gery has ruled out an immediate and enhanced move by the supermarket juggernaut into the online travel business beyond its existing presence through the Tesco Clubcard and its relationship with Lastminute.com.
Re-iterating the familiar message that Tesco is obsessive about being customer focused, Wade Gery said understanding customers better than anyone was “in our DNA”.
Yet asked in a panel session on Keeping Customers at the Heart of Online Business at the Travolution Summit why Tesco had not made a major move to meet the online travel demands of customers, she insisted that “while we never say never, we have no current plans [to increase an online travel presence]…there are more obvious things to do.”
Tesco.com’s chief executive added that her overall impression of the online travel world is that “the consumer is not as in control online as they’d like to be, and the experience is not as ‘me-centric’ as it could be.”
Continuing on the supermarket theme, Patrik Oqvist, EMEA marketing director for Hotels.com, discussing the issue of engaging with customers, through ‘search’ and the provision of effective PR, suggested that effective ‘search’ had become the “supermarket shelf of the Internet”, matching Tesco’s requirement for top-notch ‘on-shelf availability’ rates of products for its customers within its High St stores.
Arjo Ghosh, managing director of search engine optimisation specialist Spannerworks, added that there was now an ‘undeclared war for the desktop’ with Google spending extra dollars focusing on “finding new ways of getting into your living room.”
In the same session, Mike Nelson, chief operating officer of Cendant Travel Distribution Services for International Markets, suggested that in areas such as the UK, unlike the US, there is now greater competition in international markets than in the US on providing the most effective booking experience for customers.
In the US, he said, the differentiating factor between competitors is in the provision of customer care and return services.