10 things that annoy me when booking holidays online

4 04 2008

Today I read a great post on Travelrants called Ten things that annoy me about booking holidays online. Darren made a list of 10 things that annoy him while booking holidays online.

It’s clearly the kind of feedback/information people that work for Online Travel Agencies or Hotel Portals would love to gather from their visitors. That’s why I have decided to add my 2 cent and make my own list of things that really annoy me while booking online. Hopefully other bloggers will continue the discussion and post their own list on their blog! That would be VERY interesting!

Annoyed traveler

Here goes my list:

  • Being obligated to create a member account before I can get all the details of a (potential) booking.
  • Searching for hours for the cancellation fees of a hotel before I complete a booking.
  • Not knowing the total price of a booking before I filled out any personal information.
  • Not being able to use a booking engine with Firefox!
  • Promotions that never match my holidays periods.
  • Getting an expired sessions of a search when being idle for a short period of time.
  • Chosing to book a flight, filling out ALL the personal information asked (including credit card number) and getting an error message saying it’s not available anymore (but still offered and listed on-site and on all travel meta search engines).
  • Browsing a little deeper to know the services a hotel is offering, and not being able to get back to the result page I came from.
  • Picking an available hotel room, and discovering that was not a real time displayed availability and that an email that has been sent to the hotelier, who replies room is not available anymore for this period of the year.
  • Having to query availability/rates twice. Once for displaying the system cache of available hotels of the site, and another time for confirming the hotel is really available at that rate!

That’s my list, I hope travel bloggers will follow that “10 annoying things” thread and add their personal opinions. If you do so please add a trackback to this post so we can follow you.

Professionals are, of course, invited to comment my list.

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The new Tripadvisor site is online: a retail look and feel!

18 10 2007

You can have a sneak preview at the new Tripadvisor site by browsing this beta” microsite that TA globally announced today in its newsletter.

The user-generated reviews’ giant Tripavisor (part of the Expedia, Inc. family of travel companies), decided to “create a new and easier to use” site. Kristen Nicole from Mashable previously published an article saying that people have complained about the cluttered homepage of the (curent) site.

Look at those “before-after” screenshots I took and make your own opinion:

Tripadvisor before and after screenshot

A typical WEB 2.0 launch for this new version: As it has been said by Tripadvisor: It is a beta site! “Beta” means [Tripadvisor] is still polishing a few things! This beta version was first launched on the co.uk site of TA a few days ago, and it is now for everyone to REVIEW!

I have noticed myself a few mistakes in the list of countries/cities of the Europe section, like Lisbon listed under Romania(!), Rome in Latvia (!), Venice in Luxembourg (!) etc. Travolution commenters spotted those mistakes and considered that even if “it will be sorted soon” still “it reflects poorly”.

Tim Hughes thinks the beta version of Tripadvisor looks like a retail travel site. Did Tripadvisor hide the business side of their “free review site” on purpose? It’s hard to believe, as ads were everywhere in the previous version (text ad links called sponsored links and flash ads). Does Tripadvisor think it will convert better if it has the “look and feel” of a retail website (now that they are famous for being review website)? I guess so!

Take a look at a full review of this new design written by Alex (Travel UCD).

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Loic Le Meur interviews the CEO of Trivop

21 05 2007

Here is an interesting interview of Thomas Owadenko that Loic Le Meur just uploaded on his blog. Thomas is the CEO of the new travel 2.0 site called Trivop.


[vpod.tv loiclemeur/200710]

Trivop.com is a very good example of a good use of web 2.0 in the travel industry. It is a platform of video reviews of hotels (located in Europe and then in the future in the US).Like I said in the past, the future of hotel reviews is strongly connected to the future of online video; we previously saw the impact of a simple video uploaded on youtube to report a poor hotel room in Madrid. We also saw Tripadvisor launched a video uploading feature on their website to follow this (hotel) trend.

Trivop

Now we have a dedicated website only for hotels which combined a mashup of Google maps, Tripadvisor text reviews and videos generated by hoteliers and guests.In the video Thomas says that it will be focused on hotels for the first 3 years, Trivop does not have a real competitor since there is no other 100% similar site. However it might somehow compete with videos of websites like Youtube, Google Video, DailyMotions etc. and also with sites like www.travelistic.com that have a wider approach and publish video content for everything related to travel.

When Trivop has been launched at the beginning of April 2007, it already had filmed and uploaded about 170 videos of hotels. Trivop will also intend to create a marketplace community where video producers could meet the demand for video of hoteliers.

Ceo Trivop - Thomas OwadenkoDuring the interview Thomas says that not only the hotelier can upload a video but also the guest. As of today I have not been able to find a video generated by a guest, but only video “ordered” by hoteliers, with a very good editing by the way. The only negative comment I would make is that there is no way you can control the playback of the video other than using the pause button. Videos are played sequentially (divided into segments: lobby/standard room/suite etc) just as if you were watching plain old television. When deciding what hotel I want to book, I have a limited available time for making my choice. I need to compare hotel prices, hotels reviews and so on; watching each segment (of about 50sec to 1min40) without having the choice to fast forward the video is time consuming.

In my opinion the challenge for Trivop will be to generate revenue by proposing their services as filmmakers for hoteliers while they offer a free platform for guests to upload their “videos reviews” that could criticize and hurt their own clients.

Anyway I found that the concept of Trivop is innovative and useful for travellers and I wish them the best of success.

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Web Reservations International to launch a “revolutionary” travel website!

1 05 2007

Web Reservations InternationalIf you passed by WRI’s stand at the last ITB in Berlin, you certainly saw it! The Dublin firm Web Reservations International (WRI) is about to launch a new online travel website that claims to “revolutionise the travel industry and pit it against internet giants such as Google.

WebReservations International is a well know actor of the online travel industry. They bought the famous Worldres in 2005 and is now at the head of the following major online brands: hostelworld.com, worldres.com, hostels.com and trav.com. Hostelworld provides the hostels product of RyanAir’s website (whereas Expedia provides the hotel product).

Web Reservations International CEO and Co-Founder, Ray Nolan, stated in January 2007 that “Google throws you the Yellow Pages and says go find it yourself“. Ray Nolan also had good things to say about the aggregators, stating: “For any one destination, there are probably only 10 places you really want to stay, but the aggregators will make you go through 20 pages of hotels”.

As far as we know the new website (whose name has not been revealed yet) will be a fusion of social networking, travel information (with a system of reviews) and online booking system. It has been rumored that investment for this project might be as high as €30million. WRI planned to launch the website on Wednesday (tomorrow), back up with a large marketing budget.

I can’t wait to see this new product; at least on the paper the new website looks quite challenging! I hope it will meet my our expectations… Stay tunned.

Via Sunday Business Post
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Directory Free
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AC Hotels and Google – A learning experience

24 03 2007

There is a lot of buzz going on concerning AC Hotels and the ban of many of its websites from Google index; I have covered this issue in my previous post AC Hotels has been banned from google but there is a need for an update.

Mobuzztv on AC Hotels

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AC Hotels has been banned from Google!

20 03 2007

I received 2 emails today yesterday telling me that the official websites of the Spanish hotel chain AC Hotels had been banned from Google! Well, this won’t be the first time it happens to a big company, in fact depending on the changes of Google’s algorithm during the so-called Google Dance, many websites can be left behind for usually two main reasons: Poorly designed websites (from a SEO perspective) and/or abuses of SEO techniques..

A lot of companies do not have a clue why they have been banned or penalized from Google index. That’s why I will approach the case of “AC HOTELS” from different angles that respect the following assumption: “Banned from Google= Not Spidered, Not Ranked, Not Indexed”
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UK online travel agencies ready to blacklist hotels!

15 03 2007

I just read an article on Travelmole stating that Lowcostbeds.com and OnHolidayGroup have decided to blacklist hotels!

Lowcostbeds logoOnHolidayGroup

Both UK companies will use a system called Travelsafe in order to be able to determine what hotels must be blacklisted or not. I know for a fact that in the past Opodo also partnered with Travelsafe in order to perform health and safety audit with its hotels.
According to Travelmole, Lowcostbeds.com and OnHolidayGroup will use the system to be Travelsafe systemable to blacklist the hotels, apartments and villas that does not satisfy the new standards; I have no information about those specific standards yet, but there will be a focus on safety standards in such areas as fire, food hygiene, and swimming pools.
About child safety, upon completion of the audit, Travelsafe will classify hotels into 4 categories: Gold, Silver, Bronze and the ones that are said to be non compliant.
It will be offered the possibilities to assist hotels that are said to be non compliant to implement the necessary improvements. If they refuse, there will be “blacklisted and banned from all Travelsafe member sites.

This new “hotel trend” for safety accommodations got its root from last September tragedy when two young children past away from carbon monoxide poisoning in Corfu. I found an article of the Independent (London) reporting that the mother of the two children was highly motivated to push the industry leaders to take measures to prevent such tragedies in the future. It seems that she has been heard!

There are already “no fly” lists, I guess a “no-stay” list is a logical next step in the industry..

Note: ABTA signed an agreement with another system called Argent Health and Safety to release its own health and safety database this week: ABTA Resort Check (I removed the link.

If British OTA are about to blacklist hotels, Australian hotels already blacklist guests

Guest Behaving Badly logoI have seen several different types of blacklisting in the past:I have read about hoteliers in Australia who blacklist “bad” guests on a dedicated website launch on December 2006: Guest Behaving Badly GBB. Its product manager Josh Ginty said “more than 1000 holiday property providers nationally have already joined the database.

This article on USA today’s hotel blog also has very interesting comments regarding this issue.

The rationale behind this hotel trend? “Customers have the ability to rate hotels with websites such as TripAdvisor.com. So why shouldn’t hotels be able to rate customers?” as reported by Daniel J. Solove in a very interesting article called “The rise of customer blacklists”.

Who should be blacklisted next?

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