Dear travel industry colleagues, journalists, and friends, I am sorry to announce the shutdown of IDC`s ecommerce programs covering travel, media and automobiles at the end of May. As many of you know, the analysts covering these areas (including myself) were responsible for researching and recommending Internet and ecommerce strategies to executives in these industries. Other areas covering broader Internet subjects such as advertising, marketing and CRM were also affected. The group has existed since late 1999.
I would like to thank all of you who contributed to the program and who made my role as an analyst a very fulfilling one. We had the opportunity to educate our clientele, others in the travel industry and the general business community, both in the U.S. and abroad, about how the Internet could enhance their businesses. At the same time, I relentlessly reminded suppliers and agencies that only by striving to emulate the best human travel consultant could they truly succeed.
Having worked for intensely customer focused organizations such as Seabourn Cruise Line, Thomas Cook Travel and Charles Schwab`s corporate travel department, I realized it never makes sense to replace a perfectly good consultant/client relationship with a poorer online experience. This model endangers an established relationship while threatening to dilute the company`s brand. Suppliers like airlines and hotel companies, focused on lowering distribution costs, must be careful not to forget about their customers` needs along the way.
It was sometimes difficult to get beyond Internet hype and actually realize how the Internet might better be suited to benefit a business by allowing a closer relationship with a customer to develop. It was almost considered heresy to suggest that an Internet site not have the capability to close a sale. Just two weeks ago in Orlando, I spoke at Travel Weekly`s annual conference and suggested to the travel consultants in attendance that they may not need 24/7 online booking capability. Rather, they should look to the Internet as a tool to help them make the travel planning experience better for their customers.
There is still much work to be done to make the Internet a better place for travelers, travel suppliers and agencies. Luckily we`re getting there. After twenty years in travel, working for industry leaders in the airline, agency, corporate travel department, cruise line and travel package segments, I hope I can continue to bring a customer-focused perspective to the industry.
I look forward to working with you in the future. In that spirit, please let me know if I may offer my services for any projects that you might be working on or thinking about.
All the best,