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Are online and offline channels a match made in heaven for travel agencies?

Rafa Armisén

e-Commerce Business Line Manager, Amadeus España

The online penetration rate in Spanish households in 2011 reached 68% with 25% having access to mobile Internet. However, 24% of small and medium Spanish travel agencies lacked a website at that time, and 45% of those who actually had one, used it merely for informational purposes, giving their users no option to book online.

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When the Internet blossomed, very few small travel agencies saw it as a potential advantage for their businesses. This train of thought gradually changed and today many travel agencies have taken the online route, but sometimes their efforts are just too weak and inefficient. As all aspects of the digital world become increasingly sophisticated, a top priority for travel agencies should be to leverage the overlapping space between online and offline channels and implement more robust channel integration strategies.

Online & Offline Relationships

This situation has fortunately changed, but what is most interesting is the complementary relationship between online and offline channels, a reality that is helping many of those traditional businesses find an intriguing field to explore and expand.

Potential clients occupy multiple channels, but the search for the best offers and guarantees are more easily fulfilled in the offline world. After all, sales in “the real world” have an aspirational component that is more difficult to provide through online channels.

Moreover, online channels are continuously interacting with offline channels. According to recent estimates 70% of smartphone owners use their devices while shopping offline and 80% of shopping activities start with searching prices, opinions and recommendations on the Internet.

What we learn from this is that there is a much more in common between online and offline channels than we all expected. And this is a strong reason for traditional travel agencies to implement channel integration strategies.

Know your clients

There is no single recipe, but some ingredients are common to all: offlinetravel agencies must know their clients better than ever, and they need to find growth areas that distinguish them from competing travel agencies. They need to customise their messages, be where their clients are, and position themselves in order to find and develop an effective online strategy.

This involves a 360 degree approach, starting from the analysis of direct competitors. It also requires a consistent marketing strategy, involving different marketing tools and the support ofsocial media .

Finally, it means designing attractive channels with the integration of the best search engines and owned content and, above all, a plan to monitor everything and to redefine or reinforce the e-commerce strategy as needed.

It might sound like a lot of hard work, but successful multichannel travel agencies will reap the benefits of being able to serve their clients wherever they go.


Tags

Europe, Travel Platform, Spain