Shopping Online = Playing a Virtual Reality Game?

While declaring that  “Content is King” is dead, the UK based Travolution Magazine is recommending a stiff dose of “User Experience Redesign” for Online Travel Agencies in the US as the way out of the current industry-wide stagnation in online travel sales. 

The editor, Kevin May has this to say

Research from Forrester a few months back indicated that online bookings in the US are falling despite an increase in the number of visitors to corresponding website. This is a disturbing trend.

[Consumers]  are also asking for more from the providers of services during their time on the web.

This is a problem for the travel industry because, until very recently, it has been focused primarily on the transactional elements.

So-called ‘user experience’ has invariably been left to ensuring accessibility guidelines are complied with (or not, as is often the case) and sizeable sums of money being spent on flashy designs

A concerted effort by travel companies to improve user experience on websites can only benefit their consumers, and the sector as a whole.

With virtual reality video games and online worlds like Second Life – not to mention the cool animated movies that have been topping the box offices for a few years now – expectations from an online experience are increasing. Add to the mix the fact that a Travel Purchase is essentially purchasing an experience – not a book that you order from Amazon and get to stack on your nightstand. The customer is expecting a preview of the experience as a key ingredient to the purchase decision-making process.

Speaking of buying boxes, Amazon and Best Buy sites treat customers the best according to a recent survey. Amazon just wrapped up its best season ever. The Wall Street is certainly very happy.

It’s time to start borrowing ideas from the video-games and the movie industry to make travel shopping an ‘immersed’ experience. Remember The Matrix and the Matrix Online game? Just my personal favorites! Your mileage may vary…