Why travel consumers think about web booking channels in a different way to the industryNewsBy Viewpoints | December 12, 2011Share This article was originally published on NB: This is a guest article by Geoff Galat, chief marketing officer at Tealeaf.The life of the multi-device travel booker is changing, offering an incredible opportunity for travel companies of all shapes and sizes.But for me, working in the customer experience space, I’m constantly astounded by how many companies seem to forget the part they have to play in the two-way relationship between brand and consumer that is a reality today in our online, socially-connected world.Research we have been working on clearly shows how few opportunities travel companies have to get it right when it comes to providing a good customer experience, no matter what device consumers are using.At a general level, we find that 42% say a positive online experience when booking a holiday is important. And, on mobile, the research is even clearer; 40% mobile bookers surveyed said they would expect their experience booking or researching a holiday on a mobile device to be the same or better than on a desktop computer.If they did struggle when using a mobile device, 46% of those with a mobile device said it would negatively affect their feelings towards the brand and 38% would be likely to book their next holiday with a different provider based on the poor mobile experience.These are the kind of results that make a CFO or CEO suddenly sit up and see the importance of not just ‘doing mobile’, but doing it right.The truth is, British consumers, like many others around the world, are incredibly web savvy these days.After 15 years of ecommerce, there is zero tolerance for sites that don’t deliver a near perfect experience and, with competitors a click away, travel ebusinesses have never had to work so hard to keep our custom. So you’d be forgiven for thinking that ebookers would continue to have similarly low expectations for the latest new digital trends like mobile.It just isn’t the case. Online bookers see online as one channel, regardless of the device they are using. While travel companies are eager to increasingly have a specific mobile strategy, consumers aren’t compartmentalising in the same way.The bad news for businesses is that meeting these high expectations will take a lot of hard work. Developing an effective ecommerce strategy that encompasses new trends like mobile and social commerce won’t happen overnight.And while consumers don’t need to understand that everything works in different ways across different devices or platforms, businesses must because there is a massive opportunity. And, as seen above, a big brand reputation headache is the cost of getting it wrong.The time to act is now.These high consumer expectations mean companies have no time to waste. Travel companies have had a long time to get it right online, but with emerging technologies they are not getting any benefit of the doubt.And the complications aren’t decreasing any time soon. In the last two years it’s been all about smartphones, for the next two it’s going to be smartphones and tablets. And who knows what will follow after that.We all just might be transacting on Facebook in the near future. So putting in place a platform-proofed strategy for the short and long term will be vital.Of course, the potential rewards are plentiful, you just have to make sure that the consumer experience – no matter what device they use – is as good as it can possibly be.NB: This is a guest article by Geoff Galat, chief marketing officer at Tealeaf.NB2:Full report and research available from Tealeaf.NB3:Image via Shutterstock.