Sunday, November 18, 2007

WTM Pegasus Sessions: Too much information, so much shopping and eventually somebody buys something

Third in my series of posts coming out of my interview with Michael OConnell of Pegasus at WTM (Senior Director – Global Partnership Development).

One of the challenges facing Pegasus mirrors by theory around the next phase of online travel being about consumers confronted with too much information and needing help and guidance in finding answers questions like “where do I go next?”

Pegasus is being confronted with this in dramatic increases in search volumes, especially from meta-search and optimisation tools. Some involved look to books ratios of 300,000:1 that is a conversion rate so off the chart that if you were at an online retail company you’d either fire you head of marketing or product or both. This is happening because Pegasus gets pounded in a meta-search request not once but potentially dozens of time per search. If you imagine that a meta-search provider is connected to 40 or so retailers and half of them are access the same rate for a chain property through Pegasus you can see than duplicative searches are inevitable and place a burden on Pegasus’ systems.

Pegasus is trying to deal with this in two ways. Firstly by doing deals directly with meta-search providers to lessen the load or at least manage it more efficiently. Part of this is to help the meta-search companies decide which hotels to search through which distribution connections including Pegasus. This should hopefully reduce some of the bursting that comes from meta-search companies. Secondly by using this as a very cheeky opportunity to encourage the meta-search companies to drive this traffic and the Pegasus owned hotelbook booking site rather than the string of competitors that will then pound Pegasus multiple times. The hope being to sell meta-search on using hotelbook as a proxy for all chain property searches. Has a nice ring to it if efficiency of search is your main criteria but am not sure that the CPC hungry meta-search providers are going to buy it.

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