Guscic: The Year Ahead Comment

By admin


If you've chosen a career in travel, you've chosen well. While indelibly linked to the fortunes of the broader economy and therefore not immune from the exhilarating highs and exasperating lows market externalities throw our way, the travel industry has a long track record of growth and projections of continued expansion.
But if you've chosen a career in online travel, then you've got the golden ticket. With its explosive growth track record and projections of continued above market growth, online travel will continue to outgrow and outperform its offline counterpart, as it has every year since 1999. 2012 will prove to be another year defined by opportunity and optimism.
Every business leader knows the importance of staying relevant to their customers. Thomas Cook established a travel package brand as a temperance measure over 100 years ago and Webjet established a brand synonymous with choice, convenience and speed over a decade ago. But customers have evolving needs and anyone working in travel can tell you that indulgence rather than temperance defines today's consumer. The exciting part of online travel is developing innovative, cutting edge technologies which marry customers' travel needs with rapidly changing patterns of decision making and purchasing access.
Take mobile phones as an example. Mobile ecommerce is a multi-billion dollar industry, growing 30% compound per annum. Webjet internally developed and released an iPhone app in August 2010. Consumers loved it and we saw initial sales of $20,000 per month. A year later it generated sales of $20,000 per day.
Mobile sales during the recent airline groundings resulted in our total internet sales doubling during those periods.
We expect mobile to account for 25% of total Webjet traffic in 2012 and to be bigger than our current core business in five years. Mobile sales are incremental to internet traffic sales which is good news for the whole industry.
A common misconception of online travel is that if you're online, you're on your own. This is categorically untrue. Webjet and other online travel agents offer 24/7 customer support.
What we're finding however, is a very savvy customer base which is adapting early to our smarter search and self-help capabilities. Offering clever and intuitive ways to customers to ultimately have complete freedom of choice, unencumbered by commission or incentive led biasing, is increasingly important to travellers.
Brand is a critical factor in any business's success which is why Flight Centre outperforms its rivals in the agency space and Webjet outperforms in the online space. Our research has shown that selecting a trusted name is high on the online traveller's purchasing criteria. You want them to be typing your name directly into an online search rather than paying for the click-throughs.
Brand damaging actions, stemming from being internally focused, have proved costly for many global travel brands recently. Being externally focused, consumer-centric, nimble and agile will define the winners in the online travel space for 2012 and beyond.

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