Using modern technology platforms to book a travel, using the modern web 2.0 should be a no-brainer, right? This is what I thought yesterday when starting to book a simple travel from Zürich to Hamburg an back.
So first, do your citizenship duty and check out the railway system (yes, I am ecologically biased). German Bahn has a “Switzerland special” for 39€ one-way, great… But their web form only allows to select a German station as departing place and a return trip starting in Switzerland. There is no way to book Switzerland-Germany-Switzerland. grr. So off to http://sbb.ch and book there: enter all travel details, select discount cards etc, just to be informed that (unspecified) parts of the trip Zürich-Hamburg can not be booked and therefore no booking at all is possible.
So back to http://bahn.de, skipping all discounts and simply enter Zürich-Hamburg in the regular web mask. It is great that they offer me to enter my Swiss half-fare card or my German half-fare card, but that is an “exclusive or”, I can enter either my Swiss or my german half-fare card for a trip spanning both countries. Fail again! Price: 220€ for the discounted cheap tickets bound to a specific train.
So off to the flights: expedia.de offers a direct 230€ Swiss/Lufthansa flight, so I’ll go for that. (1.1h rather than 8h of traveling time is more attractive). Enter details, skip rental car and insurance options, just to be informed that the flight is now 270€ rather than 230€. Suckers. Off to http://lastminute.de, booking the very same flight for 230€.
Conclusion? Digital markets might be true enablers, but their execution is still lacking. Also in-transparent price design can be something rather frustrating for the consumer.