‘Travel industry needs to create better content’

ABTA Travel Convention: The travel industry is losing out to online retailers by failing to create enough inspiring content to turn website visits into bookings, according to leading figures in the sector.

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Speaking at the ABTA Travel Convention in Croatia, chairman of the digital advisory board at Thomas Cook Group John Straw said that the industry was poor at creating and handling content.

He added: “We are very good at dragging people in their hundreds and thousands into our collective websites and then not converting them into sales.”

Straw pointed out that only approximately 3 per cent of website visits are converted into transactions and said: ”Surely as an industry we can do better by inspiring people with more content.”

The theme of content ran across several sessions at the convention.

Nigel Huddleston, industry head of travel at Google, said the travel industry had lost its online leadership to retail in recent years and added:  “We are trying to push the consumer to the booking point [online] when they are not ready to book. Very few sites inspire the consumer to get to the booking process.”

Huddleston said that there was a ”huge thirst” for video content from travellers about hotels and destinations.
He added that people on average spent 73 days between their first search relating to a holiday and making  a booking as it is “a big emotional commitment”.

Thomas Cook has recently introduced online services such as Ask & Answer and Dream Catcher to provide helpful content and inspire potential customers. The former lets customers ask questions as they go through their booking journey and answers are sourced from tour operators and reps with 4,200 questions recorded in the first 12 weeks of operation.

Dream Catcher is designed to let customers digitally share their findings and destination shortlists from their initial store visits with friends and family and involve them in discussions.



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