02 September 2005

Why So Secretive?

I think surfers are instinctively wary of secretive sites - sites whose identity is hard to pin down. I think consumers like transparancy. They like to know who they are dealing with. Who they are buying from.

This is a real problem for the online travel industry which, with the growth of dynamic packaging, often presents tiers of different identities to the buyer. He or she goes to a website called (eg) deadgoodhols.com, finds a holiday in Australia which, when they click on it, goes to a new (affiliated) site, kangaroohols.com. The booking procedure involves hotel, flight and excursion components that appear to come from sisterbrand.com, and when they finally get the email confirmation, it's from parentcompany.com (which these days is inevitably OTC.com! Oh sorry, no. Their parent, lastminute.com!)

Anyway, I'm straying slightly off-topic.

I've just come across a new site: www.WeDoWeekends.co.uk. Weekend breaks at five country house hotels in the UK which feature talks or performances from celebrities.

Nowhere on the site is there any information about the company. Just an 0870 phone number for bookings. There's no address. No 'Contact Us' page. No 'small print'. Not even a clue in the online booking url. This is clearly a brand for somebody, but who? And why are they being so secretive?

A visit to Whois at Nominet reveals the answer. It is the Bourne Leisure Group (Haven, British Holidays, Warner and Butlins). But why would they want to hide that and what makes them think a consumer isn't going to be wary about a company hiding behind a brand name?



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