Travel agents do not have video capability, says specialist

A “damning” mystery shop of major high-street travel agencies has highlighted that agencies have yet to invest in the technology needed to show customers destination videos.

Dave Howard, managing director of video specialist Trailstream, told delegates at the Travel Technology Initiative autumn conference in London that agents should be able to offer the same experience of video-streaming technology that customers can access from home computers.

But a mystery shop of eight Thomas Cook, Thomson, Holiday Hypermarket, Hays Travel and The Co-operative Travel branches, in which agents were asked for more details about a hotel, showed major flaws in in-store technology, Howard said.

The agents failed to get information on the hotel, either in a brochure or online, and struggled to show a video of the hotel because of connection restrictions.

Howard said: “The results were damning. A couple of agents tried to show a hotel video. A Thomas Cook agent tried to play the video but it stuttered and made the system run slowly. It was a similar story in a Thomson agency.

“We gleaned that high-street agents do not have the bandwidth for the media we are supporting. It is baffling that agents are happy doing the same thing they have been doing for the past 10 years.”

The company has created an in-store media server, being trialled by two Midcounties Co-operative agencies, to enable agents to show customers online videos.

“Part of this is to ensure staff could deliver the same experience as [customers have] at home. It will happen on the high street because agents need to be able to offer this level of customer service,” Howard added.

He said statistics from online agency directline showed that holidays advertised with a video were twice as likely to be viewed by customers, and revenue was likely to be higher.

“The average booking value went up. Customers were more confident because they could see the product they were buying,” Howard said.

More information:

* Inside Co-op Travel’s multichannel agencies (Travel Weekly, August 5, 2009)

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