Study: Desktop Marketing Steers Travel Shoppers

A new study by Compete, Inc. concludes that desktop marketing applications can drive travel sales.

The study, expected to be released today, examined Southwest Airlines' desktop tool Ding!, launched in February and downloaded almost 1 million times as of October. Southwest Airlines is not a Compete client and didn't sponsor the study, said Compete Senior Associate Gregory Saks--although, he added, the Compete sales team likely has had discussions with Southwest (and other travel suppliers) about becoming a client in the future.

Southwest sends promotions straight to the desktops of consumers with Ding! The study found that Ding! users are 45 percent more likely to book through Southwest than non-users.

Compete's analysis of some of the leading loyalty programs in the lodging sector found that the travel shopping behaviors of hotel rewards program users are nearly identical to non-users. Rewards program members evaluate 5.9 supplier or agency sites, just slightly less than the 6.3 sites considered for a non-member. What's more, some programs were found to have no effect at all.

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Compete attributes the rise to the ease of comparing prices and amenities online. "Travel suppliers have traditionally turned to rewards programs to create and maintain loyalty," Gregory Saks, senior associate at Compete, said in the report. "Yet today, with nearly every brand offering its own program, and consumers seeing less differentiation, it is clear that marketers need to look beyond just rewards to maintain strong customer relationships."

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