In order to better address consumers needs in the growing online travel marketplace, Orbitz has named two everyday consumers, a marketing grad student and a corporate travel executive, to its Consumer Advisory Board.
Travel enthusiasts Monica Schneider, 24, a Minneapolis graduate student and Michael Hall of Milwaukee, 41, were selected from among hundreds of individuals who submitted essays describing “Why they are a perfect fit for the Orbitz Consumer Advisory Board”. Monica and Michael join the board of esteemed travel and technology experts who include:
—Con Hitchcock, well-known consumer travel advocate
—Richard Bryan, U.S. Senator (D-NV), retired, former Nevada Governor and Attorney General, “one of the Senate`s leading consumer advocates”
—Valarie D`Elia, recognized travel correspondent and broadcaster, host of “Travel with Val”
—Esther Dyson, Internet pioneer, author and Chairman of EDventure Holdings
—John Levine, author of the bestseller, The Internet for Dummies
“The Orbitz Consumer Advisory Board is a first in the industry and was created to be a touchstone to consumers,” said Jeff Katz, Orbitz chairman, CEO and president. “What better way to reach everyday travelers than to have Monica and Michael, true consumers in the marketplace, listening to what people are saying about our service and the online travel site experience.”
Advisory boards are becoming a popular resource for businesses according to Robert Calvin, adjunct professor of entrepreneurship and marketing at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. The boards provide the business with crucial perspective from the outside; in particular, a consumer board can alert the company to consumer preferences and online trends. They also can assist businesses in exploring new business options and technologies as well as providing personal and professional experience to situations that are new to members of the company`s management team.
“Orbitz is uniquely demonstrating its commitment to consumers by seeking impartial advice from travel and technology experts to create a superior travel site,” said Professor Calvin. “What is truly impressive is that Orbitz sought out and found actual consumers who are passionate about travel for the Advisory Board. Smart move considering consumers are the ones using the site, booking travel and spreading the word to friends, family and associates.”
Con Hitchcock, Chairman of the Orbitz Consumer Advisory Board, joined Jeff Katz in selecting Monica and Michael. Monica is starting graduate school this fall at the University of Minnesota, prior to this she had been working in Chicago doing marketing research and travels extensively visiting family and friends. Michael is the corporate travel manager for Johnson Controls in Milwaukee. He has lived in five countries on three continents. This, combined with “being born with itchy feet,” is what makes him an avid traveller.
Consumer Advisory Board members will meet quarterly, in person and via teleconferences, to discuss consumer feedback, site related issues, industry and online trends and consumer-oriented content. Additionally, Consumer Advisory Board members will participate in monthly email and chat room discussions with consumers to solicit ongoing feedback and report back directly to Orbitz senior management team.
Research indicates that consumers who book online search up to five websites because they are not confident that they are receiving all the available information. Reasons vary from comfort level and lack of familiarity to privacy and security. Board members will reach out to consumers to discover those key issues and work with Orbitz to develop solutions.