How Spannerworks views the Long Tail…
The industry should love the Long Tail of search. It is the vital intelligent model through which we can make sense of and think differently about the changing needs of the travel customer.
The travel industry has always suited the tail theory. Spannerworks research shows that, on average, consumers search six times before making a travel purchase decision. From the head of the tail ‘holidays Barbados’ to the tail of the tail ‘five-star seafront hotels Sandy Lane beach Barbados’, it is a complex journey, involving visits to multiple websites. The length of the tail may be shorter for car hire and far longer for holidays, but there is always a tail as customers become increasingly fragmented.
Yet agents and major operators are failing to address the Long Tail of search. Search strategies tend to stretch to the tail of the bucket-and-spade mentality, rather than the true complexity of the more complex customer needs, as reflected through the world of the web.
Search strategies should cover the variance of language and specific questions that might be asked when a comsumer nears the point of purchase. A timely search for ‘hotel and flight Barbados for cricket world cup’ reveals that of 122,000 results there are three intermediary sites, many newspaper sites, local government sites, eBay and sport fan blogs in the first two pages of results. Not one tour operator or travel agent site is visible.
Analysis of changing language used in search engines provides insight into the changing needs of the niche. The Long Tail of search language should be attended to, to provide a new way of viewing and thinking about the ever changing customer interest.
Madeleine Wood is business development manager at Spannerworks