Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Changing faces good, changing prices bad...

Online retail - particularly in a market like travel - is a tough balance between finding a global marketing and product approach to ensure consistency in experience and local targeting to ensure you do the best for (and make the most out of) customers in each local market. In the hotel world I have often ranted against different prices for different markets as customers find out too easily and turn against you. However there is a layout and promotions role that has to be different for each market. Expedia/Hotels.com has often taken the lead in this. Was looking today at the differences in the Hotels.com AU site, UK site and US site. Very different layouts, promotions, sort order and targeting but (I think) the same pricing and inventory.

I also like the HotelClub and RatesToGo approach of global layout with specials, language and currency options providing the targeting but (mainly) with single market pricing. I do not think their sister site Octopustravel.com's approach of asking you at the beginning where you are from and change their pricing accordingly works. The analogy I have heard defending different pricing for different markets it is like McDonalds or 7-11 where you have the same general theme but different products and pricing to reflect that different lunch time tastes and economic conditions in each market. However while I cannot go to a McDonalds in Tokyo or San Fran for lunch I can go to a Japanese based or US based online hotel property or intermediary and obtain a room.

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