Title: Consumers' perspectives on the selection of air ticket purchasing channel

Authors: Kuangnen Cheng, Zu-Hsu Lee, Beate Klingenberg

Addresses: KNC Travel Agency, 1406 Sutter St., San Francisco, CA 94109, USA. ' School of Management, Marist College, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601, USA. ' School of Management, Marist College, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601, USA

Abstract: Online airline ticket sales have been growing for many reasons: airlines| continuing efforts to reduce distribution costs, the booming of discount airlines, low point-to-point fares and widespread internet usage. The online travel agency segment (travel websites) continues to post solid gains and is expanding its share of the travel market. To stay competitive, offline agencies (traditional travel agencies) need to thoroughly understand today|s travellers| needs and booking habits, and then revise their business model. In this case study, we survey and analyse the motives behind the selection of a booking channel, mainly based on data collected from face-to-face and telephone interviews with informants. The result shows that consumers prefer the online channel for its lower price and ease of use. On the other hand, trustworthiness, trip complexity and agent|s special expertise are the offline agencies| advantages over online agencies. However, the study also indicates that peer pressure and corporate policy may override an individual business traveller|s preference. And finally, the study shows that consumers do not necessarily perceive online agencies provide faster processing or a better selection of air tickets (or travel packages) than offline travel agencies. By knowing pros and cons of how customers perceive online and offline channels, traditional travel agencies can fully explore their superior irreplaceable knowledge to counterattack advantages offered by the online channel such as lower price, convenience and freedom features.

Keywords: e-commerce; consumer behaviour; travel agencies; internet booking; air ticket reservations; tourism; electronic commerce; online airline tickets; purchasing channels; travel websites; ticket booking channels; lower prices; ease of use; trustworthiness; trip complexity; service expertise; peer pressure; corporate policy; business travellers.

DOI: 10.1504/IJBE.2011.039385

International Journal of Business Environment, 2011 Vol.4 No.1, pp.63 - 91

Published online: 01 Apr 2011 *

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