Aito 2014: Members urged to improve websites and ‘future-proof’ themselves

Aito 2014: Members urged to improve websites and ‘future-proof’ themselves

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Association of Tour Operator members have been urged to improve their websites with more personal references, user reviews and imaginative use of content, and to promote their own brands more effectively.

Richard Carrick, of Richard Carrick Consulting, used a team of experts to analyse Aito members’ brands, product, websites, online savviness and customer relationship management.

Martin Randall Travel came out top across the performance indicators, with Journey Latin America and Explore runners-up.

Members were told they were good at promoting their sector of specialist travel, but not necessarily focused enough on pushing their own brand name.

He said: “The level at which you communicate your brand is patchy. There are some clear propositions but they are not as well communicated [to clients] as they should be.”

Carrick told members to improve their websites by putting up photographs of staff; getting clients signed up to mailing lists as soon as possible; having client testimonials; using video to promote content and “nudging” customers to keep them on the website.

“There is not enough focus on improving conversion rates and reducing bounce rates; give people nudges to keep them on your site,” he added. “Reviews on your site will whack up conversion rates. Very few of your sites have third-party reviews.”

Only a third of members’ sites acknowledge customers when they sign up to their mailing lists, he added. Technology is set to change at such a rapid rate that within five years clients will be able to “smell” food in destinations through their own mobile telephones.

Futurologist Rohit Talwar, chief executive of Fast Future claimed that in the longer term, consumers will also be able to experiences a whole range of aspects of holidays remotely via technology.

Warning travel companies to future-proof their businesses, he predicted technology would be developed to ’embed’ into the human body, while banks will embrace digital currencies such as ‘bitcoin’ as consumers choose this as a way to pay for holidays.

“We are seeing the rapid evolution of technology. We are going to see technology embedded into our bodies. In a few years you will be able to smell food in destinations via your phone. In ten to 20 years we will be able to create the experience of being there by stimulating the brain,” he said.

Talwar urged companies to plan ahead and create lists of things they needed “to stop doing” in order to focus on the future. “Organisations which do the best at not being surprised by the future are the ones which look ten years out at what is coming,” he added.

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