Just in time for the vacation season, the University of St.Gallen took a close look at the digital presence of tour operators. The providers’ websites and social media channels are often the first port of call for vacation tips, planning and booking. While the digital platforms are well integrated with telephone hotlines and local travel agencies, the comparative study still shows optimization potential for direct service. Prof. Dr. Marcus Schögel as initiator of the study is particularly surprised by the low level of integration of customer or expert opinions and the spread of live chats, call-back option and other standard functions in meta search engines: “Customer expectations are based on the offers of TripAdvisor and AirBnB as well as the standards of other industries. Traditional travel providers still think far too much in catalogs and cannot keep up with them”.
For the comparative study, the Institute for Marketing compared the digital activities of the 10 top-selling Swiss travel companies with the 15 finalists of the World Travel Awards. Two Swiss companies, Hotelplan and Kuoni, also made it into the top 5 of the international digital ranking. They score points not only for functionality, but also for supplementary services such as travel experts or a mobile app. The most important results of the “Digital Marketing & Sales Channel Monitor” on the 25 travel providers analyzed at a glance (full report):
- More than half of the travel provider websites contain no reviews – neither from their own customers or experts, nor from rating portals such as TripAdvisor and HolidayCheck.
- With Meta Suchmaschinen long usual functions, like price alarm, last reservation, number of the still available rooms or further prospective customers are with none or only with individual tour operators – although they offer an auxiliary use to the customers and increase the purchase pressure.
- For further inquiries 80% of the Swiss and 73% of the international travel offerers list the service hotline prominently on the starting side, 60% and/or 53% even directly with the contact times. Live Chats are against it with under a third (Switzerland: 30%, internationally: 27%) and a recall function even only with 10% (Switzerland) and/or 7% (internationally).
- The Swiss tour operators surveyed promote personal contact more strongly than their international competitors, with references to local travel agencies on the homepage (70% vs. 33%) or at a lower level (30% vs. 27%).
- Not all tour operators are in social media. On Facebook you can find 80% of the brands; on Twitter, Pinterest/Instagram and YouTube 76% each, although especially the topic of travel offers a lot of potential for content marketing.
Digital Marketing and Sales Channel Monitor
The benchmark study to travel offerers is after investigations to the retail trade, to luxury marks and to white goods already the fourth expenditure of the “digital marketing & Sales Channel monitor” of the University of pc. The Institute of Marketing has also been conducting intensive research and teaching on the use and integration of digital marketing and sales channels for many years. With regular publications, study trips, practical projects and continuing education programs, the researchers not only want to scientifically document the digital transformation, but also actively support it.