While most of the international travel industry has been heavily shaken by the Iraq War and the SARS outbreak there are some who have been left unscathed.
One such company is Australia’s largest online accommodation provider, Flairview Travel, which has seen bookings increase. It claims the secret for growth has been the flexibility of the Internet.
The company has two accommodation booking websites, Hotelclub.net
. Featuring over 5000 hotels across 33 countries worldwide, HotelClub.net attracts 1 million unique visitors a month while RatesToGo.com is a relatively new express booking site attracting over 300,000 unique visitors a month and features strong Australian accommodation inventory.
Bookings have grown by over 300 per cent compared to the same period last year (March 20 - April 10). In fact since war commenced, daily bookings on both sites climbed by as much as 16 per cent. Bookings from Europe to Australia rose as much as 50 per cent compared to the same period last year (April 1-9).
Flairview Travel has attributed its continual overall growth, regardless of the social and political climate, to the Internet changing the way consumers book. During periods of social and political unrest, consumers become more prudent with their expenditure, they seek value and want to search for suitable price propositions.
Ms Chloe Lim, head of sales and marketing for Flairview Travel said: “We have to admit that we were expecting some sort of fallout considering the unrest in the Middle East and health warnings coming out of Asia and Canada -however the flexibility of communicating via the internet means that we are able to change our marketing strategies, localise our content and communication in relation to the language and onscreen interfacing.
“In times of unrest consumers want extreme flexibility - while some might defer travel plans altogether others may simply change plans and ensure that travel is to safer destinations for shorter periods or closer to home. We anticipated that people would be looking for local holiday options so we segmented our markets and focused on securing strong domestic deals for each,” said Ms Lim.
While agencies and airlines reported drops as early as three weeks ago when the first travel warnings were issued in relation to SARS. Flairview Travel has only seen a very slight reduction in the last two days and only to Hong Kong and Singapore.
In general, local travel is still key. Bookings of domestic travel have peaked across the majority of its global markets in the lead up to Easter. For example, 95 per cent of Australian bookings made since March 20 to April 14 on HotelClub.com and RatesToGo.com have been to Asian Pacific destinations. While in France local bookings are up seven per cent since March 20 - accounting for over 55 per cent of all French bookings on the company’s sites.
“From a trade perspective we are providing our hotel partners access to over a million regular viewers per month - it is a great additional distribution channel for them to sell inventory which they have been unable to sell through traditional markets because of social and political situations. While this means better deals for our clients it also provides our partners with additional sales that would have otherwise been difficult to achieve”, said Ms Lim.