Wotif.com: technology enabled accommodation booking service
- social bookmarking
- Tag cloud
- Animal Logic: from a start in advertising to an Oscar
- Atlassian: a company built via the digital economy that provides tools for the digital economy
- Australian Broadcasting Corporation's digital innovation
- Online Banking: the Commonwealth Bank of Australia
- Google Maps: Building a product for the world from Australia
- ViCCU and ECHONET: technology improving rural health
- National ICT Centre of Excellence: The Bionic Eye
- National ICT Centre of Excellence: smarter traffic control systems
- National ICT Centre of Excellence: improving water use efficiency
- Podkids: learning digital skills and connecting with the world
- Wotif.com: technology enabled accommodation booking service
- YouDecide2007: an Australian case study in citizen journalism
Wotif.com225 is an online hotel reservation service which specialises in last-minute bookings. It functions as an online marketplace showcasing discounted accommodation deals from more than 13 000 accommodation providers to millions of business and leisure travellers. Wotif.com provides its suppliers a platform to promote their property through a cost-effective distribution platform. Suppliers, which include hotels, apartments, bed and breakfasts and hostels, are able to list their own inventory and pricing on Wotif.com. Each supplier uploads their deals through the supplier side of the website and these deals are almost immediately made available to customers.
For customers, Wotif.com allows them to search, compare and book accommodation. Each month, more than 3.4 million people visit the site and Wotif.com accepts over 224 000 accommodation bookings. Customers are able to search for accommodation by location, date, price and hotel features. Wotif.com then presents customers with a list of options based on that search.
Wotif.com launched in 2000 initially offering hotel rooms throughout Australia. As at June 2009, Wotif.com offers accommodation in more than 45 countries, with a particular focus on the Asia-Pacific region. From an original base in Brisbane, the company has established offices in Canada, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand and the United Kingdom.
Wotif.com is part of the Wotif Group which is an Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) top 200 company generating an after tax net profit of over $34.5 million in the 2007–08 financial year.
In 1999, Graeme Wood was working as an independent IT consultant in Australia and was "dabbling in the Internet". Up to that time, the accommodation market was very static. Hotels set their seasonal pricing at the beginning of the year and kept to these prices regardless of changes in market or consumer demand.
During a meeting with an acquaintance, Wood learnt that in many cases, hoteliers would be happy to drop their rates in order to maximise occupancy.
The challenge, Wood realised, was how to get the message out there. Traditional advertising was not only expensive, but it also didn't allow for a short-lead time. So Wood turned his mind to the Internet and realised that it provides a unique platform on which to create an online marketplace for unsold hotel rooms.
Rather than being just a handy tool, the immediacy offered by the Internet provided the ideal medium for the Wotif.com business concept—one that allowed hoteliers to promote and sell unsold hotel rooms online and providing customers with the opportunity to instantly confirm their bookings. The borderless nature of the Internet has also been of benefit to Wotif.com, allowing suppliers to upload rooms and customers to access deals from anywhere in the world.
Over time, Wotif.com has steadily enhanced its user interface and service offerings. Initially, the site only sold hotel rooms seven days ahead. This was then extended to 14 days and then 28 days. From February 2009, Wotif.com enabled bookings to be made up to three months in advance. The three month booking window allows customers to book ahead for long weekends, school holidays and other events where it is important to know accommodation has been secured ahead of time. It also creates more flexibility for customers travelling internationally, as these bookings are usually planned further in advance.
From the outset, the site strove to achieve simplicity so that it is easy for people to use. The hotel price matrix, a table that provides consumers and hotels with an overview of available rooms and their price, is one example of a simple tool that allows people to compare offers quickly.
Wotif.com has also added functionality and service features to make it easier for users to find their preferences. For example, in 2002, an advanced search feature was added, to the 'select box items' search which allowed users to search by price, accommodation type, hotel name or destination. In 2003, the company's Brisbane-based Customer Service Centre extended its hours of operation to 24 hours, seven days a week in order to support customers and suppliers in Australia and overseas who can access the site at any time of the day or night. In 2007, an intuitive Text Search feature was included which allowed customers to search for whatever they needed from tourist attractions to special requests. In addition, in 2007, the currency converter was improved to allow customers to either view all deals in two different currencies or perform a single currency conversion and in early 2008, Wotif.com customised Google maps so customers can quickly and easily find and compare properties in the area they want to stay.
To provide customers with the confidence to transact with the site, Wotif.com takes steps to protect their financial and personal information. The site uses 128-bit encryption to protect credit card details on the Internet. In simple terms, that means no-one can see a credit card's details when they are entered for a booking. Industry standard Secure Sockets Layer technology connects customers to Wotif.com's secure payment page to ensure that information entered is encrypted.
Wotif.com has a digital certificate from Thawte, which is a certificate authority that provides digital certificates to secure servers, provide data encryption and authenticate users to ensure the protection and management of data transmission.
Wotif.com protects all personal information that customers provide. This includes information that can be linked to a specific individual such as name, address, phone number and email address. Customer profiles are not created, used or stored. Only information that is needed to do business with customers is collected. This information is not disclosed to anyone except the accommodation supplier.
Since Wotif.com began nine years ago, consumer confidence with Internet transactions in general has increased. To help instil confidence among customers, Wotif.com outlines the privacy and security policies clearly on the website, to further help customers prior to making a booking (www.wotif.com/info/Privacy and www.wotif.com/info/Security).
Customers can also contact the 24 hour Customer Service Centre (CSC) if anything goes wrong or if questions arise while making a booking. One of the CSC representatives can assist with bookings over the phone to help allay any concerns customers may have when it comes to privacy and security online.Back to top
 Reuse or distribution of this case study must include the following attribution: Australia's Digital Economy: Future Directions © Wotif.com and Commonwealth of Australia, 2009, www.dbcde.gov.au/digital_economy/final_report