ORLANDO, Fla. -- The primary drawbacks to using an on-line
travel service are lack of usability, reliability, privacy -- and
speed, speed, speed. Other than that, they're great.
"Waiting for the pictures, you could die," said a member of a
focus group of 10 frequent travelers from New York, who were
videotaped for a presentation during PhoCusWright Live 97 here.
The travelers shared their opinions about the services they
reviewed: Biztravel.com, Expedia, Internet Travel Network, Preview
Travel and Travelocity. "I think it's at 65 now on a scale of one
to 100," said one participant, echoing the sentiments of the
Here's a few of the observations the participants shared, some
of them sure to warm the hearts of travel agents:
* On confidence: "I want to know whom I'm dealing with ... I
want to call the travel agent and let her [take care of it]. I need
a live person who can go back into it, check something I did,
change it for me and be a backup."
* On the requirement to register before using the service: "Even
before you got started they wanted to know everything about you to
* On-line booking as work: "You're going to have to give me an
incentive to do this. They [the carriers] are benefiting because
they're not paying people . they're saving a lot of money this way.
So what do I get out of it?"
* On content: "They [on-line services] seem to have deals with
certain airlines . They always seem to prefer certain airlines, and
I have a feeling they're not really dealing a fair deck all the
* On usability: "I was clicking, clicking, clicking, but it
wouldn't go anywhere."
* On speed: "Terrible." "So slow." "You just say, 'Forget it.'
Interestingly, the focus group did not reject the notion of
booking on line, despite members' criticisms. But they will wait
until they can participate in on-line commerce on their terms. So
now all the services have to do is make their products easy, cheap,
fast, familiar and reliable.