Companies and service providers across the travel industry are now under immense pressure to digitalise and invest in online platforms in order to succeed.
Listed below are the key enterprise trends impacting the online travel theme, as identified by GlobalData.
Loyalty schemes have become increasingly popular recently, especially given the experience-based awards that can now be earned from a travel provider by demonstrating a high level of loyalty. However, today’s loyalty scene has become crowded, with many providers offering similar schemes with little valuable return. Customers are becoming increasingly disengaged and struggle to see the value of membership to multiple loyalty schemes.
Personalisation of loyalty schemes offers a unique proposition for businesses seeking to re-engage customers and drive repeat sales. The volume of data the online travel sector can collate on a customer allows for further personalisation of offerings. Investment in this area is vital to remain competitive in the online travel sector.
Travel firms that invest in a ‘mobile-first’ app strategy are likely to satisfy the demands of the 21st century traveller. The functionality of these apps is endless. From offering a booking facility, editing a booking, exploring the destination to messaging an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot about a booking query, there is a multitude of possible options to include in an app but the most important ones to include will be the ones that add the most value to a customer.
Investment in app-based programs or ‘mobile-friendly’ website is essential to keep current and ensure the needs of the tech-savvy generation are met. Consumers would like a one-stop solution for their needs and not just a booking facility from an app. The seamless integration of processes into one app increases the convenience for a consumer thus increasing their satisfaction.
Digital partnerships have enabled firms to tap into the expertise and knowledge of another firm to enhance the exposure and value it can extract. As companies strive to become more tech-savvy, exploit maximum value out of the data they hold, and analyse third-party data, it is now common to see major online players partnering with leading technology providers.
One such example of employing a specialist technology provider to support the best distribution of a product is the partnership between Travix, a Netherlands based online travel agent (OTA) with brands such as BudgetAir and CheapTickets.nl, and Amadeus, a global distribution provider. The partnership was formed to help Travix increase its offering through the merchandising of extra add-ons to the flight booking process from baggage to onboard meals. The well-established distribution technology provided by Amadeus better enabled the firm to attract customers, increase yield, showcase its products and reduce its costs. Together this supported the firm in increase its revenues by 50%.
Data security is a key concern for consumers, with an increase in online spending the online travel sector has increased investment in this area. 67% of travel and tourism companies are investing in the cybersecurity sector according to GlobalData’s Tech Trends Survey 2020. However, investment in this area is not enough, this needs to be relayed to customers to ensure they feel confident in booking online.
Whilst the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a negative consumer sentiment, it would cause a detrimental impact if a cyberattack was also to occur. Therefore it is essential for all companies, especially those operating in the online space, to invest in cybersecurity otherwise they risk causing detrimental damage to their security, profitability, and reputation.
As technology and travel become ever more entwined, the deployment of AI could be seen as a positive step to delivering a more seamless and personalised experience. Virtual assistants and chatbots are now the most commonly seen example of AI deployment across the online travel sector. This allows a chatbot to use its current knowledge to answer a customer’s query quickly and efficiently, increasing their levels of satisfaction and learn an answer if it cannot answer the question as efficiently as a human could. The combination of both of these factors has seen the introduction of many chatbot services across almost all online travel businesses.
Increased hiring in data focused roles
The travel and tourism industry has collated a magnitude of customer personal data over the past few years and if this can be utilised effectively, it can assist firms in creating a more captivating, personalised online experience. Recently it has become increasingly evident that travel firms have increased hiring activity in data driven roles to better digest the wide range of data and then be able to turn it into actionable insights.
According to GlobalData’s Job Analytics Database, there has been a 13% increase in the number of active job postings by online travel firms in January 2021 compared to the previous month. The highest number of roles advertised was related to the major technology themes of the cloud, artificial intelligence, and big data.
This is an edited extract from the Online Travel – Thematic Research report produced by GlobalData Thematic Research.