The whole thing made me think about how they offer information and why Travelbug needs to provide more interaction - or I won't be stopping there to buy travel.
On Saturday morning we decided to leave the city - go for an unplanned weekend in the Wairarapa wine region. It was great, and I actually managed to stay away from my laptop the whole time.
Since we decided to get out of the city at 10am, there was not much time to find accomodation. Not enough time to send e-mails, wait, wait, wait for a reply. Actually there's no way to contact a propery owner through Travelbug - no contact information, nothing.
I visited Travelbug and searched for accomodation in the Wairarapa. We found two or three interesting places, and seeing this is not a busy weekend they all had vacancies.
But we wanted to know if the place would be toddler-friendy. Is it fully fenced? Gate on the driveway? Space for a portable cot? All those questions that need answer now, not in two hours time or Monday morning.
So I did the next logical thing: used Google to find these places' websites, and called the owners on their mobile phones.
As a result we booked a place over the phone, and went away.
Travelbug? They missed the commision because their communications is not good enough. They should really team up with a VoIP provider and offer the properties listed there an option to have a "click-to-call" feature on the site. Something that would allow propety owners to set a schedule with times they can receive calls and where the calls would terminate.
For the users, a small application on the browser would connect them to the property owners and allow them to ask questions. Travelbug could even charge a nominal fee from the calling party directly from their account.
I was the lead archictect at Unisys for a project with similar functionality, but for help desk services. Our "click-to-call" was developed back in 2002. As I discussed before, a lot of things companies are doing now have been worked on before...
No, Travelbug won't lose business with this. They might even have a better chance than letting people use Google to find contact details and take away their revenue.
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