Hotel Image A/B HiPPO Fail • Travel Search Semantic Revolution • Ancillary Air Fees Hurt Passengers • WestJet Compassion

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe: Read Mark Twain’s Poetic Description at the End of this Post
Image Credit: Pauk


Hotel Image A/B HiPPO Fail • Effects of When Guests Pay • Travel Search Semantic Revolution • More Google-Frommer’s Analyses • Ancillary Air Fees Hurt Passengers • Kudos for WestJet Compassion • Lake Tahoe

Hotel Images: A/B Testing Exposes Another HiPPO Fail

Great write-up in Tnooz about optimizing Hotel image clickthrough. My A/B testing colleagues and I have been observing for years that experts, no matter how much experience they have or how highly paid they are, cannot reliably predict user and customer preferences. This is the HiPPO syndrome (HiPPO = Highest Paid Person’s Opinion). A key quote from a Posadas Hotels’ Sales Manager reinforces our point:

“We learned that our opinion and the customer’s opinion about our best photo are not the same. We saw a 46% improvement in click-through compared to the image we originally were using. It definitely blew us away.”


Side Effects of Letting Hotel Guests Choose When to Pay

Expedia has been rolling out the Expedia Traveler Preference program to let hotel guests pay at either booking or checkout time. Expedia is doing this for a good reason—offering the option increases overall bookings. One of the reasons for this is due to international differences in the way travelers make bookings. In some countries, almost all travelers pay at checkout time; if they are not offered that payment option, they will simply decline to make a booking.

This article speculates on several side effects, both positive and negative, that may arise when travelers in most markets are given the option of when to pay.


Travel Search: “Semantics is the Real Revolution”

This Travolution Guest Post covers ongoing developments in travel search, including simplified user experience, Natural Language Processing (NLP), mobile and voice recognition, but concludes that semantic search is where the real innovation and consumer benefit is occurring.


More Analyses of Why Google Bought Frommer’s

Tnooz commissioned a digital marketing research firm to analyze the Google Frommer’s acquisition. A likely hypothesis suggested by the research is that the acquisition is part of a strategy to develop a comprehensive wholly-owned travel platform with ratings, reviews, guides and search. Of course, as many observers have noted, at $23 million, the cost was so cheap it was practically a no-brainer.


Travopia has produced an interesting graphic of the emergent Google Travel ecosystem:

via Tnooz

Travel blog Gyrovague weighs in, predicting that Google will kill Frommer’s:


Ancillary Airline Fees are Hurting The Customers Who Don’t Pay Them

Airlines tell us ancillary fees are supposed to be a win-win: profit starved airlines stay in business and consumers save by only paying for the products/services they want. This article points out the fallacies in the airlines’ assertions.

The first example given is how the extra legroom in the premium economy section is created by decreasing the legroom in the rest of the economy cabin. I just got back from two weeks of travel in which I flew both economy and premium economy. Frankly, I have to say that the overall value to consumers is low. The airlines have overdone the premium economy offering and are charging too much for it. Other than the location and extra legroom, the United Economy Plus seat I sat in was identical to any other economy seat. The 36 inches of legroom may be appealing to very tall people—say 6 foot 4 and above, but I’m 6 feet tall and had way more leg room than I needed. On the other hand, the new standard 31 inch economy seats I sat in on other flights definitely had less legroom than I’m comfortable with. The standard used to be 32 inches.

Time Moneyland

The Boston Globe also has an informative legroom story:

The Boston Globe

Feel-Good Airline Story: WestJet

In an age when it seems there is an endless stream of negative airline stories, it sure is nice to read about one airline that responded with compassion, competence and generosity to ease a family’s pain.


Travel Aspirations: Lake Tahoe

Sometimes the best destinations are close to home. Mark Twain described Lake Tahoe as “Where the angels come to breathe.”


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