Opinion: eBay travel push reflects changing consumer habits

Phillip Rinn, director of partnerships, eBay UKAs the recession bites and hunting for a bargain becomes the primary factor when looking for a holiday, the travel industry has had to evolve and look at new ways to satisfy the consumer.

At the end of last month announced its latest foray into the travel category by launching a partnership with hotel supplier Octopus Travel.

The partnership offers more than 50,000 hotel rooms in a mixture of auction and Buy It Now formats, selling to eBay’s 17 million visitors a month.

Choice and a great deal are not always things that come hand-in-hand when booking a holiday. Previously, if price was your main driver when booking a holiday, you had to wait until the last minute to get the price and usually had to forgo your choice of location or hotel.

Or, if it had to be that hotel or resort, you usually had to pay top dollar to ensure you got it.

But now the power is firmly in the hands of the consumer. We think this tie-up between eBay and Octopus provides a one-stop-shop that offers choice and a great deal at the same time, with a wide selection of hotels and the option of bidding for or buying a room.

This means customers can either bag a bargain or book a room to ensure they get the hotel they want.

In the past year, eBay has seen its holiday and travel category grow significantly in response to consumer demand for new ways to book a holiday. As a consequence, the travel industry needs to change the way it works.

Many retailers have opened up to the world of online but not explored its full potential. eBay has proved that retailers can have great success and benefit from incremental sales to their existing channels.

Travel retailers must now look at harnessing the web beyond their existing offering to reach new online shoppers.

Phillip Rinn is director of partnerships for eBay

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