November 28, 2012

OTAs venturing into high-touch areas

OTAs are beginning to move from the “rational” booking tools on which they were built - those two-dimensional grids of dates, city pairs and fares - to “inspirational” tools designed to appeal to the emotions and create a highly personalized purchasing experience.

In short, said Henry Harteveldt, chief research officer and co-founder of the Atmosphere Research Group, OTAs are venturing into a high-touch area where traditional travel agents have excelled by adding value through conversation and personal contact.

It’s not that OTAs or suppliers’ sites have found their inner poet. The issue, Harteveldt said, is strictly dollars and cents: They have maxed out their ability to grow their businesses using rational booking tools.

Now they’re appealing to consumers’ emotions with inspirational tools such as Travel Seeker HD and Featured Results, both offered by Amadeus, and Vayant’s FastSearch.

Even mobile tools aimed at last-minute, budget-minded travelers are building inspiration into their business models. For example, Hotel Tonight uses evocative photos of happening bars and glamorous city scenes.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly