Talking to the Holidaymaker

By | Category: Travel rumblings

The future of holidays and tourism was one of the last parts of World Travel Market last week.
We had heard a lot about going green, value for money and the need to bring on more hotel rooms and offers for the middle market. Woe betide expansion into the luxury end of the market. The thinking was that more 3 and 4 star hotels were needed. And if the destination isn’t green and pitching strongly for sustainability then tourists would stay away. More travellers would book through packages because that gave them security in these economic times.

And one other feature came to the fore.

Holidaymakers wanted to talk to people. Personalisation was the key. Travel agents, hoteliers, tour operators and destinations needed to understand their customers and provide them with trusted advice. I thought that was the role of travel agents to advise which destinations seemed a good match for the requirements of the traveller. Someone wanting nightlife wouldn’t be advised to go to Extramadura in Spain or the Yorkshire Moors. Now it seems that online sites and everyone else connected with tourism should do the same.

As was pointed out, the system has gone full circle.

The head of strategy for Expedia, Graham Cook said his site needed to anticipate the needs of travellers in the way that a human would from talking to them.

But can online sites and those once removed from the traveller do this? As Hugo Burge from Cheapflights said, one minute you book as an individual, the next as a business traveller or with the family.

Whatever it means, we, the traveller are important individuals again. Or is that a pipe dream?



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