Travel-Coupon Sites: Are They User Friendly?

Since the launch of Groupon in 2008 the online world has seen many ‘deal-of-the-day’ websites, and this eCommerce trend is now evident in the tourism industry as well. Only last month Expedia announced a new collaboration with Groupon, and you can find hotel deals and group buying offers for holidays and tours literally everywhere these days. What can we say about the travelers who use these services?

Online travel expert Matt Zito calls them Micro-Trippers: most of them are female, take between 3-5 trips a year and almost always keep it spontaneous and unplanned. The latter is also the main difference between an Online Travel Agency (OTA) such as Booking.com and a Micro-Tripper site: when you visit an OTA you normally know where you want to go and when. Read his excellent post here.
The question is, how can these travel deals be optimized for a better user experience while maintaining the spontaneous effect?
Right now, my inbox is bombarded with different travel coupons and group buying offers to hotels ranging from 2 to 5 stars, in destinations ranging from Sydney to Phuket. This overwhelming amount of information which is not based on the recipient’s preferences may lead to a user ignorance rather than to an online booking. Despite the spontaneous effect, users still want to be offered with relevant products. For example, perhaps I have just returned from a 14-day holiday in Thailand – why would I want to hear about deals in Koh Samui? And maybe I’m not interested in going to Asia in the first place because I hate long flights?
The ideal group-buying travel site will allow the following:
  • Choosing at least one selection criteria: destination, length of stay, hotel class or price. This will eliminate those irrelevant coupons and will increase the booking chances, while keeping the whole experience spontaneous.
  • Rewarding the Micro-Trippers: if a user booked a holiday X times a year, let them feel special by rewarding them with a gift. Building a community of loyal Micro-Trippers will grow your website.
  • Linking the deal to Trip Advisor and other UGC sites for a better user experience: those beautifully written descriptions supporting the deals are looking like duplications. In the age of user generated content it would be wiser to allow a faster scanning of real reviews, rather than to expect the user to visit Trip Advisor on a different browser and to come back for the booking later on. It’s too risky.
I guess that some of the current ‘deal-of-the-day’ sites are already offering at least a few of the above. If you saw good examples, feel free to share!
* Photo is taken from Groupon.com

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Comments

  1. Martino says:

    "faster scanning of real reviews" … there are copyright issues with taking content from TripAdvisor and similar and displaying it on your own site. Even Google got in trouble for this.

  2. Isaac Mizrachi says:

    Hi Martino, thanks for your comment. Actually, Trip Advisor encourages site owners to link to user reviews with special badges. It's totally legal and improves user experience.

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