Do you know what your competition is doing? If not, now is perhaps the time to find out.
It’s the time of year for setting budgets, planning and prioritising for the future.
Whether you are an established player or disruptive innovator, online travel brands need to identify trends as well as understand threats and opportunities.
This means knowing what the competition is doing and who the competition is.
NB: This is a report by Pamela Whitby, editor for EyeforTravel.
Let’s take a look at some of the questions that the industry may be contemplating as they start planning this autumn.
1. What and how to sell on a mobile device?
Somewhat worryingly, EyeforTravel’s latest research reveals that although 64% of executives believe mobile is generating direct sales, only 49% will be increasing investment in the channel over the next three months.
Hotels that don’t wake up are missing a trick, says Tomas Laboutka, co-founder and chief executive of the last minute, mobile only booking platform HotelQuickly.
He points to the fact that by 2015 $1.3 trillion worth of goods will be purchased on a mobile device.
But what sort of mobile device?
Interestingly, Allen Darnell, vice president of technology for Silvercar, argues that the mobile phone will be much more important in driving new revenues than the tablet.
While many firms may know that they need to focus on mobile, few have identified exactly what they should sell.
A focus this year will be in destination sales – and specifically those of tours and activities as TripAdvisor’s recent $200 million acquisition of Viator highlights.
Most importantly, says Laboutka, firms need to understand their own customer and then enhance the experience throughout the journey.
2. Wearable technology – is it all it’s cracked up to be?
If Virgin Atlantic, the first airline to trial Google Glass, sees this as an opportunity then one could argue that the answer is yes.
But EyeforTravel general manager Gina Baillie is not convinced.
"From my research, the consensus is that Google Glass is not all that it’s cracked up to be. There are hardly any customers using it despite it being around for over a year now."
Most people seem to be putting their money on smartwatches which are less intrusive.
3. Does bias pose a significant risk to the metasearch channel?
During a recent EyeforTravel panel discussion the debate around metasearch got a little heated.
Everybody on the panel – Kayak, Momondo, TripAdvisor and JetRadar – agreed that metasearch is just another distribution channel that consumers love.
But the big question was this: are the likes of Kayak and Trivago, which have been acquired by big OTAs, at risk of bias?
According to Hugo Burge, chief executive of Momondo, it’s simply not in the interests of metasearch companies to be biased.
"It’s just another channel but it has to be about putting the customer first. Consumers have to be confident that they are getting the full range on price and on service."
4. Can your website design help you differentiate?
Yes, says Chris Buckelew, corporate director for ecommerce at Crescent Hotels and Resorts, but again it’s about giving the customer what they want across all the platforms they are using.
While he argues that search engine optimisation starts with how you structure you website, he admits that look and feel can be very subjective.
So his biggest tip is to always A/B test.
"Let your consumers decide what works and what doesn't because they will tell you."
So agrees Mansi Vagt, director of digital marketing for Fairmont Raffles Hotels International.
Aside from the few days that customers spend in the hotel, most people experience a brand through the website.
So one of the most important things you can do as a digital marketer is to listen to what your customers and then deliver the goods.
5. Should you worry about the impact of the peer-to-peer businesses model on your brand?
Yet again, it’s all about what the consumer wants and what the consumer needs.
Peer-to-peer companies, like Uber, Airbnb and BlaBlaCar are disruptive forces that are shaking up the industry.
According to Alec Dent, partnership manager for BlaBlaCar, these business models are all about creating sense of community but it’s critical that they are based on trust.
And it’s seems that if your customers like and trust you, then your business will grow; in April BlaBlaCar had grown to seven million users taking a million journeys a month.
Of course, the sharing economy may not be for everybody, and there are regulatory issues to address, but what’s clear is that there is no point burying your head in the sand – instead you need to join the debate while always keeping what your consumer wants top of mind.
NB: This is a report by Pamela Whitby, editor for EyeforTravel. It appears here as part of Tnooz’s sponsored content initiative.
NB2: Do you have other questions you need answered? Why not try out EyeforTravel’s Research Library which has a database of 700 hours of transcribed and searchable industry audio and video, industry insight and original research.
NB3:Aircraft question image via Shutterstock.