Travelocity employees are pausing today to say thanks to the people around the world who have taken them on the trip of a lifetime over the last 10 years: their customers.
How time flies - I still remember the Travelocity launch party in Manhattan and the excitement of seeing a totally new way of buying travel develop. Both the company, and the travel industry as a whole, have come a long way in these past ten years and the travel landscape has undergone a complete change and will certainly continue undergoing even more radical change as technology and the tools it produces are introduced into the marketplace by innovators.
What I personally regret about the state of online travel, is the continuing focus almost exclusively on lowest price. It is perhaps understandable, as the first products sold online were airline tickets, a commodity item nobody wants to pay more than absolutely necessary. This purely price based differentiation was further perpetuated in almost every media story about online travel in the past ten years. I still remember the blank stares I received from analysts and reporters back in 2000 trying to convince them of the advantages of a packaged product bundle, ideally self-designed by the online travel shopper, when the company I worked for first introduced dynamic packaging in the marketplace.
I applaud Travelocity for its recent efforts in moving the discussion to one of added value and customer service. It is essential for continued, profitable growth in the industry, to get the message across to the traveling public that the old rules of "you get what you pay for" and "if it sounds too good to be true, stay away" apply when it comes to travel.
Gazing in the proverbial crystal ball, let's hope when the 20th anniversary comes along, the discussion will be focused on who offers the most pleasant buying experience, ease of use website and greatest customer service, rather than where can I get ten bucks off an airline ticket....!