WTM – Travel 2.0 to end online bazaars

Price-driven behaviour in online travel is to be replaced by consumers “taking charge” of their user experience on the internet, a leading US analyst has warned.

John Bray, vice-president of advisory services at US research house PhoCusWright, examined how the advent of Travel 2.0 would affect online travel companies’ business and so-called Travel 1.0, he suggested, was all about ‘price’, bringing prices to a consumer for a product in a channel.

“That’s a bit like employing all your business in the checkout lane of a store,” he said. “I call them ‘online travel bazaars’. You’re not sure what the price is going to be around the next corner.”

In Travel 2.0, users will take charge, he suggested. “We’re already seeing this phenomenon in the music industry where artists are now being paid for song production and not album production. And this same principle is being adopted in the camera business, where consumers’ behaviour is now affecting the media choice of companies such as Nikon and Fuji,” said Bray.

The key tenets will see the equivalent online of users doing their travel research, asking their friends about destinations and recommendations for a trip, and putting it all in a folder.

There will also be complete transparency in the information, because of the ability to share and swap information. “No longer is your product, say a hotel, going to be judged by the photo on the Web. People will be able to smell any lack of authenticity,” he said.

Some myths will also go, he said, notably the idea that Travel 2.0 is about a bunch of start-ups ‘that are going to crash and burn’ or that ‘its simply about technology’, and relevant to people born after 1984. And the idea that it’s simply anther ‘channel shift’ or only applies to intermediaries, is just not the case.

Travel 2.0’s DNA, Bray defined, would include the following keywords: user control, vertical search, ‘beyond the browser’, ‘MetaSearch 2.0’, mapping and mashups, tagging, ‘media to money’ and shared experiences

And some relevant sites he suggested: Sheraton’s Four Points; Bugbitten.com; TripAdvisor; and YouTube.

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