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Issue 2001-10 - Friday, October 12, 2001

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  Was it the right time for

Was it the right time for

eIndice of French TO and online agencies: quality has materialized


After trying to sell almost everything online, has finally turned to eTourism but maybe this was not the most appropriate time to do it…

In any case, this is what we might be tempted to think at first.

But in fact, runs very little risks and its investments are rather limited.

Investments made…by others provides the flight search engine, when is in charge of discounted travel and The Vacation Store provides cruise vacations.

Long term views


What is more, even though the eTourism sector is presently going through a difficult time, everything should be back to normal within a few months (at least, this should be so in the online Tourism sector).

And yet, there is no doubt that the alliance that was forged between, and is a long-term union that does not have to worry about a temporary economic situation.

Indeed, as I see it, not only does the Internet population keep on increasing and will keep on doing so but what is more, this Internet population is becoming more and more mature, which means that the percentage of users who might shop online is also increasing.

If you add to this all the consolidation phenomena that are presently taking place, you will easily understand that the actors that will be there tomorrow should have a promising brighter future: less actors in the eTourism sector and more potential buyers!

Cendant - Galileo - Cheaptickets

The Cendant Group was not mistaken since it recently took an interest in the GDS Galileo and now confirms that it acquired Cheaptickets for $280 million (please see the interview that was recently made of its president, Sam Galeotos by eTourism newsletter).

One thing is for sure: whatever the economic situation might be, the alliance that was forged between Amazon and Galileo probably did not please Travelocity that now faces competition from one of the biggest Internet database in the world.

Europe, the new stakes of the world eTourism

And finally, please note that does not intend to leave it at that since its UK subsidiary, should launch its own eTourism web site in partnership with before the end of this year.

And all the recent announcements that were made well prove it: Europe is presently what is at stakes in the etourism sector with the joint venture that took place between Expedia and SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer = the French Railways Board), not to mention the union that took place between Travelocity and the German group Otto.

Expedia just announced it was going to launch and in order to pursue its European growth.

We have to admit that the eTourism sector does not have any real leader in Europe yet, which means that the road is clear and that the setbacks presently faced by some European actors should only arouse the envy of American giants.

The current crisis should then prove beneficial to them, as they will be able to carry out partnerships and/or purchases at... discounted rates.

Sources : Hotwire - Motleyfool/BusinessWire - Travelocity/Otto


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    eIndice of French TO and online agencies: quality has materialized  


Our last eIndice of TO and online agencies, which was made last January, already indicated a considerable improvement in the quality of eTourism web sites in French language.

This tendency was confirmed in this new eIndice, and not only did the quality remain steady, but it even increased.

Indeed, all the sites that were classified got a mark above average, which had never happened in our previous eIndices.

The very good qualitative level obtained by these eTourism web sites proves that high standard web sites are no longer the prerogative of just a few but now apply to most TO and online agency web sites.

Nevertheless, this general improvement must not conceal the very good results obtained by sites such as whose mark goes up by 1.40 points out of ten compared to our last eIndice.

Another element proves noticeable in this eIndice: it is the remarkable arrival, in second position, of thanks to a high standard web site, despite a few youthful mistakes, that were bound to happen.

And finally, to get this classification part over and done with, please note the very small gap that can be seen between the very first sites in our eIndice.

Of course, this is not a "linear" gap, as this "global" classification is the outcome of different angles of analysis corresponding to the very philosophy of our methodology.

This is how, in the "navigability, graphical interface" section, arrives first, followed very closely by

As far as "Relational elements and customisation abilities" are concerned, Clubmed still arrives first but this time just before, while arrives first in two different categories: "reservation, personalisation, search engine" as well as "Online positioning, coherence and image, brand enhancement".

Even though arrives first in our eIndice, it only takes the lead in one single category "Content and richness of the sites as well as their commercial offer".

In fact, it arrives first because it got relatively good marks on all the categories. Indeed, Travelprice proves to be one of the most comprehensive web sites of this eIndice.

All these congratulations being made, we should now point out that a few sections of some of the analysed web sites need improving.

The first point concerns customisation.

One of the most advanced web sites to that respect is, which offers its users a very nice customisation module. It includes:

  • "My ideas for a journey", divided between plane/holidays/tours and hotels
  • "My reservations" divided between plane/holidays/tours and hotels
  • "My guides"
  • "My good reasons"
  • "Advice"…

Throughout web site, users can store information on what might prove of interest to them in their "Karavel space".

On this point, web site really breaks away from its competitors.

This type of eService represents one of the basic elements of any real customising policy; nevertheless, the fact is that most web sites usually store users' personal information (first name, last name, address…) but only use it, at best, at the time of the reservation.

The "technological" advance shown by is hardly surprising.

Indeed, its online competitors benefit from the famous "first mover advantage". There is no doubt that it is commercially more difficult to create a new eBrand from scratch in the eTourism sector now than it used to be.

And yet, Karavel now benefits from the all the experience gained with such effort by its competitors, not only on the technological but also on the marketing level.

If a latecomer has no option but to invest massively in communication campaigns to succeed in establishing its ebrand, on the other hand, among the computing and marketing investments (that might account for huge amounts of money) that had to be made by its predecessors, a newcomer is able to retain only the elements that have been tried and tested…

And this latecomer advantage is particularly obvious for as it manages an almost perfect race and arrives second in our eIndice straightaway.

Another point remains to be improved on some web sites; it concerns the charter of users' data protection. Few are the sites that already prove able to offer a charter worthy of the name, but we should pay tribute to the very complete ones offered (and easy to find…) by ebookers, Degriftour but also

One last wish, and easy to achieve: try and become more human, put personalised email addresses at your users' disposal, along with the names of the sections' managers and even maybe their picture.

What easyvoyage did to that respect proves just remarkable: the whole team is presented online along with the picture, the personal email address and the direct phone number of each member!

Without reaching such a level of personalisation that might prove difficult to reach for some web sites, it still proves perfectly possible to improve many sites to that matter…without any specific charge, apart from a few photographs J

This is not the first time I insist on this point: Internet is a cold media, and it proves absolutely necessary to try and humanize it in order to become successful online.

Fortunately, the "humanisation" of the site is presently happening thanks to two eServices that can be found more and more on the sites that were classified in this eIndice: the call back and the chat options. This is a good point…and it should be pursued!

And finally, despite what has just been said, this eIndice of TO and online agencies is a very good "vintage" that shows the dynamism but also the seriousness of French professionals; nevertheless, this is an essential point as international competitors are presently appearing on the French online territory.


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