Demographic shift hitting travel websites

Changing demographics on the internet are forcing online companies to find new ways of working with consumers.

Expedia and vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, David Roche, referring to figures from TGI, said the older age group in the three years up to mid-2005 had grown at an extraordinary rate.

“Internet demographics are fast approaching a mirror image of general demographics in the UK and it is a similar picture across Europe and the globe.”

Roche also said a less affluent percentage of the population was catching up online with their more wealthy peers.

“It’s going to take a while before these guys get comfortable buying online,” he added.

Roche claimed companies needed to assess how different these customers are to those already online and decide whether it made economic sense to target them.

“The older generation uses websites as a brochure. They are not conversant with the same language we are all familiar with,” he told delegates at Eye for Travel this week.

He said the older generation still needed hand-holding which means companies will have to keep phone lines on and call-centres open and would not be able to drive everything online.

Roche also said new payment options, other than credit cards, would have to be devised to enable online companies to do business with people not familiar with using them.

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