A recent survey conducted among UHPA members for 2017 shows that during the first months, almost 18% of travel bookings were made through online platforms, while 58% of bookings were made at agency outlets. This leads to the conclusion that most citizens prefer direct contact with travel advisors.
Ivan Ilijašić, founder of the start-up company Orioles, which provides operators with everything from booking to payment and promotion, and his team conducted a survey on their user base (smaller organizers of trips, tours and activities) and compared the results with global trends. As an IT company dealing with tourism solutions, they are aware that the traditional way of booking travel still prevails in our country. But research neglects one very important detail, and that is not just the desire for additional consultation with an agent.
It should be taken into account that the vast majority of domestic travel and excursion organizers do not offer the possibility of online booking through their websites. Consequently, online sales and own websites as a channel for faster and easier access to new customers are not sufficiently and adequately used.
Most websites offer the ability to send inquiries for a single departure. As a reason why it is not possible to make a direct reservation or purchase, respondents stated the following:
- They do not have IT support to provide a real state of tour occupancy on their website
- Due to the lack of IT support, they are not able to track sales through agents and display the actual situation on the web
- Concerns about how to implement online billing (billing system, fiscalization, how to issue an invoice).
On the other hand, there are customers and lovers of travel and excursions who have their own reasons why they buy through online channels. Here are their main reasons obtained by researching the Orioly marketing team:
- 47% buy through websites if they are easy to use
- 37% are used to shopping online
- 30% believe that the price should be more favorable via the web
- 28% believe that the website should contain the entire offer that is easy to view from your own armchair, without the need to go to an agency
- 20% believe that during online booking they can find out additional information about the destination from several other online sources.
And while domestic customers may be inclined to make their reservations in direct contact, the increase in foreign guests seeking out-of-board offers must encourage domestic agencies, tour and tour operators to invest more in sales through their own website or various distribution channels such as Viator. , TripAdvisor, GetYourGuide or TourRadar. Here are some interesting facts that tell us why online booking is something that is necessary for any domestic organizer who wants to attract more foreign guests:
- Globally, 148 million people use the internet to book tours and accommodations, accounting for 57% of total bookings
- In the last 5 years, the number of online reservations has grown by 73%
- During the holidays, 24% of guests use their mobile devices to find additional non-board offer
- 95% of online travelers ask for additional information on the Internet before buying and trust the brand more if it offers online booking
- 59% of Asian travelers want to make a reservation whenever and however they can through online channels - source Tnooz
It may seem that Croatia is lagging behind in technological progress and digital sales of travel and excursions, but previous research on the Croatian market is similar to global statistics:
- 20% of service providers do not have any website
- 90% of operators believe that email is the most effective way to receive booking inquiries
- Globally, 46% of tour operators offer the possibility of booking and booking confirmation, while in Croatia this number is much lower, somewhere around 20%
- 52% of the world's tour operators offer their services through agencies
- 82% of organizers promote their offer through sites such as TripAdvisor.
Let's also take into account that today the vast majority of tourists have smartphones and that the global annual growth of searches via mobile devices is 66%. Here, then, we come to a situation where a foreign client expects a domestic travel organizer to be present on the web, has optimized websites and online booking on their site.
As they conclude from the company Orioly, All of the above speaks in favor of the fact that everyone in tourism needs to invest more time and money in online sales and promotion channels because it is something that foreign tourists expect, as well as more technologically aware domestic tourists.