Written by Josh A.
The resent studies demonstrate that the internet has become the first opinion consumers tend to rely on when it comes to making a purchase decision (Apulu and Latham, 2011). Social media platforms, blogs, and websites provide users with easy access to numerous product and service reviews generated by other users. Consumers perceive such information more legit and trustworthy as compared to companies’ statements and marketing messages, which explains the popularity of online information services such as Trip Advisor and Booking.com (Duggan and Lang, 2010). However, the effectiveness of online information services depends heavily on how much they are attractive to consumers. Websites that fail to meet the requirements of the end-user are unable to bring marketing gains and effectively communicate their owning companies’ products and services to potential customers (Hammami et al., 2005). The main aim of this essay is to analyse the profile and website of Travelzoo, a global media commerce company, and identify the extent to which it is attractive to travellers.
Travelzoo is an internet company that publishes offers and deals from around 2,000 travel and entertainment organisations (e.g. hotels, airline tickets, cruises, vacation packages, restaurants, and spas) (Travelzoo, 2020a). Headquartered in New York, the company has more than 28 million users in nearly 50 countries all around the globe. Although Travelzoo has much in common with Trip Advisor and Booking.com in terms of its operation, it does not provide travellers with an opportunity to book tickets on its website. Instead, Travelzoo connects its users to the travel firm itself (Travelzoo, 2020b). Therefore, alternatively to the previously mentioned online services, Travelzoo acts as a clearinghouse and its revenues come from more than 500 advertisers, including airline companies, hotel chains, and travel agencies (Travelzoo, 2020a).
Travelzoo was established in 1998 by Ralph Bartel as “a website containing nothing but advertisements for the one thing every traveller wants to know – namely, what’s the cheapest flight (or car rental, or hotel room, or package tour) to anywhere” (Reference for Business, 2020, n.p.). Travelzoo is well-known for its scrupulous approach to business and the offers it recommends to travellers. The company’s experts closely review deals and offers so that its users have access only to the best deals with exceptional value for money (Travelzoo, 2020b). Every week, Travelzoo offers the top 20 best deals with a set of strict criteria for presenting only exclusive offers with the best quality-price ratio.
The business model adopted by Travelzoo benefits all the parties involved. The company’s partners avoid having large stocks of unsold tickets and accommodation services. In turn, Travelzoo’s users or members benefit from significant discounts. Finally, Travelzoo generates profit by bringing together companies and consumers (Reference for Business, 2020). While this approach to business has proven to be effective and profitable, it is still associated with certain disadvantages. The main difference between Travelzoo and other online services is that Travelzoo users are not looking for a destination a priori. Instead, they want to go to a beautiful place (it does not matter where) at a low cost (Reuters, 2020). However, not all individuals have this ‘degree of freedom’, which limits Travelzoo’s attractiveness to ordinary travellers.
In addition to the fact that Travelzoo’s services do not suit the needs of many travellers, its success has inspired strong competition in the hospitality industry. As a result, the number of Travelzoo’s users has been declining since 2012 (Reference for Business, 2020). Thus, the company should put a heavy emphasis on marketing activities and campaigns to increase the audience, become more attractive to travellers, and maintain its competitiveness (Reuters, 2020). For this purpose, the author analyses Travelzoo’s website in an attempt to identify the potential ways for improvement.
An Analysis of Travelzoo’s Website
The existing marketing literature distinguishes between multiple ways of analysing websites. For example, Groselj (2014) argued that the performance and effectiveness of websites depend on how well they are found by the search engines and how many users visit these sites. For the last six months, more than 8.3 million users have visited Travelzoo.com, making it the 23rd most popular website in the world amongst accommodation and hotels websites (SimilarWeb, 2020).
Figure 1: Travelzoo’s Website Traffic Overview
Source: SimilarWeb (2020, n.p.)
In addition to quantitative metrics, Duggan and Lang (2010) offered to analyse tourism websites using six key factors crucial for their effectiveness. These factors are tourism details, foreign focus, the use of social media, segment marketing, deals, and promotions (Groselj, 2014). While this approach overlooks some important dimensions of website attractiveness, such as site appearance and usability, the author has adopted Duggan and Lang’s (2010) framework to analyse Travelzoo’s website.
In accordance with Groselj (2014), there is a direct relationship between information accessibility and consumer satisfaction. This statement is also relevant to the context of online information services such as Travelzoo. As identified by Apulu and Latham (2011), the more tourism websites provide their users with essential and detailed information about their trip, the higher the level of user satisfaction. Travelzoo provides its visitors with basic information about the deals they select, including its overview and description, the deal price, terms and conditions, possible dates, savings, and how to book (Travelzoo, 2020a). However, Travelzoo does not provide any information about other users’ experience of this particular service or destination. This drawback is crucial because consumers tend to rely heavily on this kind of information when making their purchase decision (García et al., 2017). Even though Travelzoo’s experts review all the deals it offers, the lack of ‘peer-to-peer’ information decreases the effectiveness of its website and its attractiveness to consumers.
Many companies try to increase their customer base by targeting different consumer groups (Groselj, 2014). That is why the role of segment marketing in the extent to which travel websites are attractive to tourists is significant. The analysis of Travelzoo’s website has demonstrated that it targets many segments of travellers with imagery, messaging, and content, which is in keeping with their individual needs. For example, the company targets families, children, couples, and sports enthusiasts (Travelzoo, 2020c). That being said, Travelzoo still overlooks some potentially profitable tourist groups, such as shoppers, students, green consumers and senior citizens, which can be viewed as a limitation of its marketing strategy (Travelzoo, 2020a).
Figure 2: Vacation Packages on Travelzoo’s Website
Source: Travelzoo (2020c, n.p.)
Since the internet does not have borders, it is vital that online information services provide their culturally diverse users with information in their native language. This feature allows website visitors to better understand the tourist details, which can produce a strong impact on their purchase behaviour (García et al., 2017). Given that foreign tourists make a large portion of total travellers in the UK and the US, it is crucial that an online tourist service meets their needs and expectations (Kim et al., 2013). Travelzoo totally understands this consumer need and addresses it by publishing top travel deals in a number of languages, including English, Chinese, Italian, French, and German (Travelzoo, 2020a). By providing language translations, the company’s website becomes highly attractive to both domestic and foreign travellers.
The use of social media is often reported as an important driver for consumer satisfaction (Kim et al., 2013). This is because social media provides users with the ability to interact with the company and other users in an online environment where they feel most comfortable (Apulu and Latham, 2011). Travelzoo incorporates social media marketing since it extends its website to the most popular social networking platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest (Travelzoo, 2020a). The social media links are very prominent since each page of the organisation’s website provides its users with an opportunity to visit its profiles on the mentioned social networking services.
At the same time, the extent to which Travelzoo engages its clients on social media is limited. For example, it has around 3.5 million followers on Facebook, while Trip Advisor has almost 7.8 million followers on the same platform (Facebook, 2020a; Facebook, 2020b).
Figure 3: Travelzoo on Facebook
Source: Facebook (2020a; n.p.)
Given that Travelzoo already provides the best available deals on hotels, vocational packages, and airline tickets, no additional discounts are available to its members. Finally, Travelzoo’s uses seasonally-appropriate imagery and contrasting colours, which create a vivid picture of the activities, adventures, and sights offered by its partners (Travelzoo, 2020a).
The diffusion and proliferation of internet technologies have significantly changed the way consumers search and consume information. This statement is especially relevant to the hospitality industry where online information services such as Trip Advisor and Booking.com not only provide travellers with accurate and detailed information about destinations but also allow them to book amenities in an easy and convenient manner (Duggan and Lang, 2010). Based on the analysis outcomes, one can conclude that the extent to which Travelzoo’s website is attractive to travellers is relatively high. It provides detailed information about its partners’ offerings in multiple languages, actively uses social media, and focuses on different groups of travellers, such as couples, sports enthusiasts, and families (Travelzoo, 2020a). At the same time, the extent to which Travelzoo engages its clients on social media and focuses on shoppers, students, and green consumers is limited.
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