Travel companies threatened by savvy dot-coms

Travel companies should beware of existing internet businesses trying to muscle in on the market as consumers enter the “lifestyle media” world, an influential report has warned.

The so-called new world, where consumers are empowered to demand services and content in a personalised way, will open up markets to other non-travel businesses to exploit, city analysts PricewaterhouseCoopers said in a study into the Digital Convergence Era.

The report said the travel sector most travel companies are not traditional media business and therefore not best placed to deliver products and services in the “desired format” consumers are demanding.

“This is an interesting time for the travel sector,” said PWC UK travel leader, Malcolm Preston. “But they should be aware that competition could now also come from established Internet businesses who want to enter the travel arena.

“An already competitive online travel environment is about to get even more competitive in the battle for consumers.”

The report has urged travel companies to create a “media marketplace” for consumers, in which internet users will be able to connect better with companies.

PWC UK performance improvement leader for entertainment and media, Sharon Stotts, said: “Knowing their customers’ behaviour and providing personalised content in the desired format is critical.”

Stottes said few travel companies are currently doing this.

Improvement in technology, coupled with wider choice and “bundling of services”, will see new companies enter the travel market, the report added.

Preston added: “It’s a new world where new rules apply and companies will be fiercely competing for the travel customer.

“To deliver an effective consumer-focussed travel product, companies need to change what they are doing.”

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