In today’s world, we are bombarded with inspiration for the next great ‘getaway’. Our Facebook and Instagram feeds are full of friends and family posting images (#nofilter!) of exotic trips, we see constant adverts on TV and Youtube from holiday companies trying to get our $$$ and showbiz news is full of the latest must visit location of the rich and famous.
One of the great pleasures in our lives is the ‘Inspiration’ stage of holidays. Kadence have conducted a number of research studies into travel and tourism over the last 12 months and regardless of the age, demographic or country of origin – the part that brings the greatest pleasure is often searching for inspiration. The actual planning part comes next – working out which cities, which itineraries and which sites we want to tick off our bucket list. This can be time consuming, and sucks some of the pleasure out of the process, but is still full of the potential and also a good chance for brands to influence spend.
However, we then move into the ‘booking stage’. A phase that causes great frustrations – pretty much whenever we have researched it. People struggle to organize themselves. They have to set aside time to actually book. The realization of exactly how much it will cost sets is. Balancing the special deals, public holidays. Airport locations and transfers. But above all, the actual process of the websites, apps and travel agents causes genuine frustration.
Across Asia, the same global brands of booking sites appear as the most used. Agoda, Expedia, Trivago, Booking.com, Hotels.com are all used frequently. Tripadvisor is also consulted regularly as a way to book the best deals. Despite Air BnB and Homeaway becoming more popular – there is still a tendency for people to book through their ‘trusted’ site. Regardless of the accommodation chosen, people feel that this provides an element of trust.
The notable exception is Japan. Where Japan-specific travel agencies take precedence. Rakuten, JTB, HIS are all geared up to the Japanese (often domestically focused) traveler.
Indeed some people book direct with hotels rather than using an aggregated site believing that they get better loyalty bonus and cost savings.
Regardless of the method used – the frustrations are the same. Conflicting information, slow process, inability to tie all the trip details under one site. The implications for businesses is that a poor booking experience actually turns people to change their plans. You can spend millions of dollars on promoting your resort, town or country, but if people get frustrated with the booking – they will stop and rethink their plans. Integration, time saving and the use of ‘value add ons’ will help make the process smoother.
As more and more people take their inspirations from their mobile orientated social media – the booking process needs to mimic this journey.