Search tools ‘failing to meet the needs of families’

The search tools available for families looking to go on holiday are not meeting their requirements, a World Travel Market round-table heard last night.

Business leaders from the industry discussed whether the needs of families were being met online.

Julia Lo Bue-Said, managing director of Advantage, said from personal experience she found online searches “too difficult for families”.

She said: “I don’t think we are meeting the requirements for families online. If you are trying to search for something which is slightly different, if you want an extra room or you want an adjoining room it is very difficult to do. I have tried to do it myself and it took an age.

“To get a search that caters for families is very difficult to find.”

In addition, Jason Dwyer, managing director of bookableholidays.com, told the group he believed the process of booking a holiday has gone backwards and that currently data isn’t pigeonholed enough. He said searches need to be “drilled down” to meet the exact needs of all customers.

However, Dean Harvey, digital development director at Designate, said he believed niche markets were fitting the bill for family searches.

“What is becoming clearer is the emergence of niche tour operators who are serving families a lot better,” he said.

“Tots to Travel is catering for mothers and families with smaller children were others aren’t and the big boys are allowing small operators to emerge on top. These niche operators know that parents want stairs gates and kids clubs and all these things and they allow them to select these options.”

When asked what could be done to alleviate search problems for families, Seamus Conlon, managing director at cruise.co.uk, said families should simply be treated as a group of people.

“The word family is the problem,” he said. “It is just a group of people and we should forget the term family.

“It should be made as simple as there are six people and I want to be three separate rooms and then here are the ages of those going.

“The moment the search engine gets this notion of families, it gets difficult when it doesn’t need to be.”

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