Online Travel Agents – A Boon Or Profit Eaters For the Airlines

It is no secret that the last few years have been difficult for the tourism industry. But amidst all this pessimism, one segment of the tourism industry that has ducked the downward trend and has flourished is online travel. One third of the total online transactions are related to travel, such is the hold of … Continue reading “Online Travel Agents – A Boon Or Profit Eaters For the Airlines”

It is no secret that the last few years have been difficult for the tourism industry. But amidst all this pessimism, one segment of the tourism industry that has ducked the downward trend and has flourished is online travel. One third of the total online transactions are related to travel, such is the hold of the online travel industry on internet. All-the-more, the sale of travel products is ideally suited to the online channel given the existence of a vast network of global travel suppliers (e.g. airlines, hotels and tour operators) and a widely dispersed customer pool; leading to a simple order fulfillment process as there is no physical product to be delivered to the customer.

All the popular airlines have websites of their own which help the customer book their tickets online and create brand awareness as well. Travel agents have also developed an internet presence of their own by creating travel websites with detailed information and online booking capabilities. The elite also feature detailed advisories on travel with brochures and travel tips. Although, airlines encourage the consumers to book directly through their websites in order to reduce distribution costs by eliminating the commission paid to the agent, the emergence of brand and/or product awareness has limited the impact of these single branded websites. In comparison, online travel agent has grown in popularity by facilitating the search for the best travel deal amongst different airline operators offering the independence and choice in terms of multiple brands and an extensive product range. For e.g., they give information not only about flights but the decisions a traveler takes after landing, like car rental, hotel booking etc.

The intermediary role of the online travel agent does not differ much from the role traditionally fulfilled by the high street travel agent. The online agent provides the convenience of 24-hour access and up-to-date information; but where they differ from a supplier in the airlines industry is when they facilitate the choice of several brands and products and of course the promise of the lowest price (which may not be the case many times); but it saves a lot of effort for the seeker and provides a one stop portal for his entire travel needs.

The present travel system has check marks at very important phases in the holiday cycle of a person. It makes him/her do a reality assessment at various important pit stops and make informed decisions ahead. Online booking is the first among these. It splits the traveler’s tracks by offering multiple choices and various options like lowest prices, packaged deals etc.

Those airlines, who view the online travel agent as a competitor rather than a strategic partner to widen their distribution reach, may increasingly miss out on incremental sales and profit opportunities. That is why travel agents are definitely a boon and not a bane for the airlines industry.

Thailand News – Travel Situation Update

The tourism industry in Thailand truly took off when US soldiers started to arrive in the 1960s for Rest and Recuperation (R&R) during the Vietnam War period. Coinciding, international mass tourism sharply increased during the same period due to the rising standard of living, more people acquiring more free time and due to improvements in technology making it possible to travel further, faster, cheaper and in greater numbers, epitomized by the Boeing 747 which first flew commercially in 1970. Thailand was one of the major players in Asia to capitalize on this then-new trend.

Tourist numbers have grown from 336,000 foreign visitors and 54,000 R&R soldiers in 1967 to over 14 million international guests visiting Thailand in 2007. The average duration of their stay in 2007 was 9.19 days, generating an estimated 547,782 million Thai baht, around 11 billion Euros. In 2006, Thailand was the 18th most visited country in the World Tourism rankings with 13.9 million visitors. France, comparable to Thailand in size and population, led the list with over 79 million foreign tourists.

According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, 55% of the tourists in 2007 came from the Asia Pacific region, Japanese and Malaysians forming the two biggest groups. The largest groups of Western tourists come from Britain, Germany, Scandinavia and the United States. The number of tourists arriving from the Middle East and Russia is on the rise. Around 55% of Thailand’s tourists are return visitors. The peak period is during the Christmas and New Year holidays when Western tourists flee the cold conditions back home.

No patience with Swine Flu in Thailand
Laboratory tests conducted on a 42-year-old Thai woman who was quarantined on Tuesday for possible swine-flu infection showed that she is free from the deadly virus, a hospital official said on Wednesday.

Two tests were made on samples from the woman. She was found to be suffering from ordinary human flu, Chulalongkorn Hospital virus specialist Dr Yong Pooworawan said at a press conference.

The woman was admitted to Chulalongkorn hospital on Tuesday after having developed a fever last Thursday on arriving back from Singapore. Her trip had earlier taken her to Mexico and the USA between April 3 and 19.

On Tuesday, the Public Health Ministry issued a warning that travelers should avoid going to Mexico or the US if possible.

Public Health Minister Witthaya Kaewparadai confirmed in parliament on Wednesday that the swine flu virus strain responsible for the global alert has not spread to Thailand.

He said he had ordered provincial health units throughout the country to stock medicines used to treat influenza and to be ready in case the deadly variant of the virus spreads to Asia.

Democrat MP Somboon Uthaiwienkul urged the government to register migrants coming to work in Thailand because they could easily become a burden on society whenever a disease spreads.

Health official’s overseas treating people who have been infected with swine fever confirm that the generic antiviral drug oseltamivir, sold commercially as Tami flu, is effective against the virus.

CNN International today announced the results of its Online Consumer Survey (OCS) on Travel and Tourism which reveals that Thailand was chosen as representing the best value for money for travelers in the Asia Pacific region. The survey conducted across CNN English websites had more than 5,000 respondents globally. Thailand came out as the best value in Asia-Pacific for respondents over China in second place and India in third.

The comprehensive survey also revealed that although times are tough, the recession hasn’t reduced people’s desire to travel. On the contrary – people are trading down, not trading out – but not compromising their experience. In addition, more business leaders are likely to travel over the next 12 months than in the past year.

    * Overall the survey indicated that more people would travel for holiday over the next 12 months than last year, but 1 in 5 would make fewer trips

    * 46% of business travelers in Asia Pacific claim the economic environment has had no impact on their business travel plans.

    * 79% of Asia-Pac respondents feel they are likely to take a vacation in the region within the next 12 months. And the economic downturn isn’t affecting everyone’s travel plans. Asia-Pacific holidaymakers spent an average of just over US$4,000 on their last vacation, – ahead of the global average of $3,700.

    * 71% of CNN’s audience of global travelers flies long-haul for leisure. Respondents take an average of 14 days vacation a year and holiday an average of three times a year.

Brand image and reputation also remains a critical factor for air travel, and survey respondents clearly feel that preferred, trusted airlines are able to command a premium. Respondents are also more likely to do fewer trips than look for cheaper hotels or discounted flights with budget airlines.

    * 58% of Asia Pacific respondents are ‘willing to pay more to travel with my preferred airline’ (vs. 50% globally and just 41% of North American respondents)

    * 61% of these Asia Pacific air travelers ‘prefer to fly with a trusted brand regardless of cost’. Furthermore, in difficult financial times, there is value for advertisers in targeting premium audiences.

    * 83% of business travelers influence the choice of airlines and hotels when it comes to corporate travel.

    * 40% of those who travel for work fly business or first class, make an average of five business trips per year and are away for an average of 19 days per year.

William Hsu, VP Advertising Sales, CNN International added “These results send a strong message to tourism boards that smart destination branding is critical for country differentiation and return on investment.”

The survey comes as the latest PAX research for the full year 2008 once again reconfirms CNN as the leading channel in its genre for reaching each of the 3 main PAX groups: Affluent Adults, Business Decision Makers and Top Management. Among the Top Management group CNN is the leading international channel regardless of genre, while continues to generate substantially higher reach than all other measured media sites.

Safety Tips For the Global Traveler When Taking Vacations Abroad

If you are arranging a trip abroad, you are potentially worried about travel safety. World travel and holidays are risky whether you are traveling all alone or with your folks. These are some easy travel safety tips you can follow without adding a lot of stress during your trip. Check with many hostels in the area and ask what the crime level is in the area. When staying at a remote top-end resort, be certain you know the way to telephone the local medical dispatchers or police in the event of an emergency. You could be twenty miles out of the town and a desk clerk may not be available to help you when required, so prepare ahead in case. When exiting your hotel room or the hotel lobby into the carpark, take a look at your environment for suspicious people.

Keep your money, visa cards and traveler checks concealed away in a secure place. If the hotel offers a safe in your room, use it for property and money also. Predators look for kids who are alone and can simply capture them and drag them into a room without your understanding. Make Copies it is important to copy all significant documents before leaving. In worldwide travel and holidays, there are generally many papers to stay alongside of like licenses, passports, birth certificates, and insurance documents. You should even copy your mastercards ( back and front ). Health Safety when journeying to Europe, Pacific Rim, Africa, India, or any other country, there might be health problems you need to know about ahead.

Some states need vaccination shots before crossing the border. Check with your local health office as well as the state’s rules to discover what ( if any ) health hazards exist.

It is also a great idea to take out a travel insurance policy in case you want hospital or doctor treatment while away. Understand the Laws when journeying to another country, it’s good to comprehend the local laws before you arrive.

Stupidity is no excuse.

If you intend to hire a car while away, learn the road laws and what the signs mean so you can be ready to drive. Create an Itinerary Before you leave, create an itinerary of your travel plans and give a copy to a family member so somebody will know your travel schedule in case of emergencies. Avoid Travel Cons If looking for travel info online, watch out for cons. If you are new to go booking, you can sign on with a professional travel company that knows the bits and bobs of travel. These firms can frequently improve rates for you on luxury beach resorts, golfing resorts and hostels, vacation cruises, and that kind of thing. Whether you are skiing in the Swiss Alps or visiting the wonderful beaches of Greece, you can save money and time. Some firms will even let you sell their services and earn an additional earnings. If you adore world travel and holidays, it can be a thrilling ‘work at home’ business! Plan ahead for safety, but remember to have a good time on your vacation!