We measure Online Travel Sites in our Customer Loyalty Engagement Index and right now the traditional default sites rank as follows:
2. Cheap Tickets/Orbitz
You don’t need a map to see that differentiation among the online travel sites isn’t vast. The reality is, though, that expectations for the category are pretty high and that sites that were able to take advantage of the gap between rational delivery and emotional delight would be able to count on engagement and loyalty to drive traffic rather than just depend upon habit and routine.
Differentiation has never come easily for brands that rely on traditional Q&A inquiry, satisfaction studies, or likelihood to recommend estimates. But leading-indicator loyalty assessments suggest online travel sites consider borrowing some values from social media. Despite a commodity-like delivery on the very rational primacy of service side of the equation, an online travel site could foster real emotional relationships with its clients and turn an “exchange” into a true “conversation.” If they did that, navigation to a more profitable latitude would be a far easier journey.
We predict greater explorations into the frontiers of social media for travel sites in the very near future. As Marcel Proust observed, “the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” New values too.