online marketing psychology

November 22, 2010

The horror of holidays


New adventures, different cultures, new countries, different experiences.

Exciting and happy times.

But if you need to book a plane ticket to get to that state of mind, you are not there yet!

Especially if you are used to booking your flights online, like I usually do. Shopping for a book or clothes online is fun, but booking airline tickets online is a horrible experience.

Unusable website layouts, system glitches are the basics for that.

Add to that the absolute mystery of ticket pricing and the hidden costs that pop up towards the end of the transaction and the experience just gets better.

Just at a time when these brands have the opportunity to engage you, to prepare you for the happy experience you'll have on your trip. And more important, to make you come again and spend again .

But all they do is piss you off and leave you with a ripped off feeling.

It is not just the airlines that miss an opportunity. There are also the big travel sites like Expedia or that are failing.

I'm not sure if airlines use referral deals with these travel sites. But lets say airlines would open up their systems. Providing an API, a way for third parties to connect with the airlines, could allow new companies to do create a better environment for these kind of sales, to show how you are different from the competition.

These APIs are used a lot in Internet settings, think Facebook and Twitter. But it can also provide be worth a lot for traditional companies, like Matt Daniels described in his post: What if every company had an API?

But let's not fool anyone. Tickets cost a lot of money. And part of the ambiguity in the pricing is what makes money for the airlines.

Horrible user experiences aside, many people will still buy the cheapest ticket from A to B. A good example can be found with Ryanair, that keeps pissing people of , but continues to grow.

So I can only hope that this will change. Maybe there will be some internet company that can change this.

Can a good brand image help a company in this case? Or does the user just care about prices? I'd love to hear what you think!

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