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Internet, Travel & Tourism

PhocusWright Day 3 – Orbitz Worldwide addresses the long tail in travel

By William Bakker | 11.14.07 | Comment?

Steve Barnhart did something novel, he actually addressed the theme of this PhoCusWright conference; the long tail. He did an excellent job of applying the long-tail principles outlined in Chris Anderson’s book of the same name.
Travel has always had a long tail of inventory. The challenge isn’t so much making it available to consumers, but also moving them down the tail. That often means, out of their comfort zone. Tail destinations and tail product means more risk. An example is satisfying your entire travel party. Destinations like Orlando are popular because it’s guaranteed that there’s something to do for the whole family. Besides inventory, lots of information has to be available to convince consumers to visit tail product and destinations.
Giving consumers access to inventory means adding value at each touch point. iTunes is more than just a large selection of available music, it’s a music management system. In order for consumers to move down the tail, the industry has to do a better job at integrating information to provide a similar experience.
The tail is filled with niche markets. Anderson’s books addresses the move from “hits” to niche product. Barnhart argues that there will always be “hits” in travel. Certain destinations are popular because of people visiting friends and family, or because they are business hubs. The opportunity lays in the long tail of activities. The niche of experiences consumers can have in any destination. His example was from his recent trip to Paris where he went on a Paris Sewer Tour.
I thought Barnhart’s presentation was excellent. No powerpoint (well, just a slide-show of Orbitz websites). Just a well crafted and delivered speech. It certainly made me think.

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