Online Travel Sites Losing Customers To Traditional, More Personalized Agents

Written by Evan Schuman
September 3rd, 2008

Site navigation problems and unpleasant booking engines are driving customers away from online travel sites and pushing them through the doors of traditional, more personable travel agencies. Even though sales for online travel sites are growing, fewer travelers are actually booking their trips online, this eMarketer report said.

This shift in trip booking bucks the trend for online travel sites, which have been more popular than offline agencies throughout the last decade. The reason for this about-face is that many customers are fed up with “unfriendly booking engines and navigation tools” and are seeking the personal touch of an offline agent. “Not so long ago, industry observers cast traditional travel agents as has-beens,” said Jeff Grau, senior analyst at eMarketer and author of the report. “Perhaps this has helped them to focus on what they do best: provide travel expertise and personalized service.”


3 Comments | Read Online Travel Sites Losing Customers To Traditional, More Personalized Agents

  1. Russell Ri Says:

    Local travel agents do have an edge over international booking engines. Besides offering the same rates, they give offer clients a better understanding of the destination they will be traveling to.

  2. cESTMOi Says:

    I think the main push here is this: Baby boomers are getting older and this group appreciates the more personalized type of business that an online portal cannot bring – especially if they have poor eye sights and alot of online portals don’t have the flexibility that a real live being can bring to the table when ordering up a vacation destination.

  3. Linda Bustos Says:

    One thing i’d love to see is a search for hotels around a venue that integrates with Google Maps and streetview, or some equivalent. If I’m going to a conference, I want to be withing walking (or in my case, wheeling) distance to the show. I also want to know which hotels have free wireless (as it adds to my overall cost), which rooms have a fridge (very important) etc.

    I have found this to be a very tedious experience – so much room for improvement!


StorefrontBacktalk delivers the latest retail technology news & analysis. Join more than 60,000 retail IT leaders who subscribe to our free weekly email. Sign up today!

Most Recent Comments

Why Did Gonzales Hackers Like European Cards So Much Better?

I am still unclear about the core point here-- why higher value of European cards. Supply and demand, yes, makes sense. But the fact that the cards were chip and pin (EMV) should make them less valuable because that demonstrably reduces the ability to use them fraudulently. Did the author mean that the chip and pin cards could be used in a country where EMV is not implemented--the US--and this mis-match make it easier to us them since the issuing banks may not have as robust anti-fraud controls as non-EMV banks because they assumed EMV would do the fraud prevention for them Read more...
Two possible reasons that I can think of and have seen in the past - 1) Cards issued by European banks when used online cross border don't usually support AVS checks. So, when a European card is used with a billing address that's in the US, an ecom merchant wouldn't necessarily know that the shipping zip code doesn't match the billing code. 2) Also, in offline chip countries the card determines whether or not a transaction is approved, not the issuer. In my experience, European issuers haven't developed the same checks on authorization requests as US issuers. So, these cards might be more valuable because they are more likely to get approved. Read more...
A smart card slot in terminals doesn't mean there is a reader or that the reader is activated. Then, activated reader or not, the U.S. processors don't have apps certified or ready to load into those terminals to accept and process smart card transactions just yet. Don't get your card(t) before the terminal (horse). Read more...
The marketplace does speak. More fraud capacity translates to higher value for the stolen data. Because nearly 100% of all US transactions are authorized online in real time, we have less fraud regardless of whether the card is Magstripe only or chip and PIn. Hence, $10 prices for US cards vs $25 for the European counterparts. Read more...
@David True. The European cards have both an EMV chip AND a mag stripe. Europeans may generally use the chip for their transactions, but the insecure stripe remains vulnerable to skimming, whether it be from a false front on an ATM or a dishonest waiter with a handheld skimmer. If their stripe is skimmed, the track data can still be cloned and used fraudulently in the United States. If European banks only detect fraud from 9-5 GMT, that might explain why American criminals prefer them over American bank issued cards, who have fraud detection in place 24x7. Read more...

Our apologies. Due to legal and security copyright issues, we can't facilitate the printing of Premium Content. If you absolutely need a hard copy, please contact customer service.