Travelers Pay More With Online Booking

Booking travel purchases online often costs more than going through traditional channels according to research by a Penn State University professor.

Dr. Arvind Rangaswamy of Penn State’s Smeal College of Business Administration has been conducting research on the purchasing habits of customers who purchased travel online and offline for companies such as Marriott, and has found that travelers often pay more when booking trips online.

Online travel services offer shoppers a wide array of choices for both airline and hotel reservations, and Dr. Rangaswamy has found this plethora of options creates confusion for those booking trips. Overwhelmed with choices about types of aircraft, hotel options, and flight availability and restrictions that travelers themselves didn’t make before the Internet, travelers often pay more than they intended.

According to Rangaswamy, buyers will not make purchases from brands they do not know. The reason, he said, has a lot to do with security.

“Many people do not know what to expect when they hit the ‘buy’ button,” he said. “There is still a perception that doing business online is risky.”

A study done in October by PhoCusWright, an online travel research firm, found that online security and personal privacy were the top reasons people do not book travel arrangements over the Internet. That study also found that 57 percent of travelers with Internet access have looked at ticket information, but haven’t booked online.

It is the fear of the unfamiliar that makes travelers book with a familiar brand even if it costs more, Dr. Rangaswamy said, especially when it comes to the Internet, which lacks concrete promotions such as brochures.

Dr. Rangaswamy predicts that experience is what is needed to get shoppers to book travel online, as well as other forms of e-commerce. It is already being seen with veteran Internet users, according to Dr. Rangaswamy.

“Early buyers have gotten past the hurdle,” he said. “They have become comfortable.”

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