Online and offline booking journeys are not mutually exclusive
Published: 03 Sep 2008: Travel.co.uk, a site launched in June 2008 with the purpose of extending the comparison model beyond price to include the complete booking process, reasons that the online and offline booking journeys are not mutually exclusive.
Referring to a recent report from eMarketer, which indicated that customers are turning away from online bookings to agents, travel.co.uk analysed its first two months´ bookings and revealed whilst 58 percent users book online, 42 percent prefer to book via the phone.
Travel.co.uk has also revealed that whilst the average online booking value has been six percent higher online than offline, retailers on the site have been converting calls at 50 percent on average, with some reaching 80 percent conversion rates. The site explains this as "a reflection of the investment in tour operator brochure content, images, video, Trip Advisor reviews plus real-time availability and 100 percent accurate pricing", which is displayed with the comparison results.
Ray Mason, managing director, Travel.co.uk emphasised on the fact that customers have different needs in their booking journey, and want the ability to choose.
"So not only can they compare and choose different holidays from different tour operators, and choose with which retailer they want to book, but, uniquely for a comparison site, they may choose to book offline or online through us. It is not about pitting the channels against each other, rather enabling those channels to support and facilitate the customer journey, and operators´ and agents´ sales, in a complementary fashion," said Mason.
Mason said sometimes, a customer wants the advantages of booking online. "Maybe it´s out of the agent´s working hours, or they like the depth and breadth that supporting information and enhanced content online can offer. The investment that we have made in content and the user-journey to deliver a great online customer experience is paying off and we do have a large proportion of bookings made online."
He added, "At other times, a customer may prefer to speak to an agent because they just prefer the personal touch and the ability to talk to a real person, want to ask questions or make special requests. Sometimes, they´ll have a conversation then book online, or look online then phone to book. This is nothing new, but it´s very interesting to see what they do."
The website will be adding additional suppliers in the coming weeks along with a refined model of dynamic packages.