Cheapflights chief executive David Soskin has compared the car industry at the beginning of the 20th century with where the online travel sector is in 2006, with a warning of increased sophistication to come.
Soskin said online travel businesses are still in their infancy and they will “have to up their online game to keep up with the pace of change”.
The word of caution from Soskin comes as Cheapflights celebrates a decade as a business, a period in which it has survived the dot-com boom and bust and become one of the most successful and high profile travel companies in the industry.
“In 1996 the internet was the preserve of a handful of computer experts and technology wizards,” Soskin said.
“Not many observers predicted it would become a revolutionary medium with the power to improve people’s lives. And, it is still at a very, very early stage.”
Soskin also warned the industry it would fall behind other sectors if consumer demands such as the shift to digital communication were not acted upon.
However he added that the “human factor” in travel was still important enough not to be discounted and left to automation.
“Providing travel is a service business so Cheapflights has always favoured providing a choice of websites or telephone numbers. We will send about three million calls to the UK travel industry this year,” he argued.
* Soskin will be guest editor of Travolution for our September edition.