More travel marketers should embrace era of complete retailing: study

Despite efforts to make the traveller journey seamless, a new study found that half of travellers spend more time than desired using digital channels to plan and book their flights and hotel accommodation.

In the Maximizing Revenue across the Traveler’s Journey report, which was undertaken in 2019 by travel consulting firm Atmosphere Research Group, and used in a new thought-leadership report, half of all airline passengers said they spent more time than desired using digital channels to plan and book flights. Forty-five per cent of hotel guests also report the same.

Airlines and hotels need to embrace the era of complete retailing to maximise revenue: study

The report highlights global customer dissatisfaction across travel digital channels, and how airlines and hotels need to embrace the era of complete retailing to distinguish their brands from their competitors, make their digital channels more compelling, and strengthen their customer experience if they want to become the Amazon of Travel.

Furthermore, the report also found that data and personalisation, driven by AI and machine learning, are key to unlocking travellers’ “second wallet” for ancillary travel purchases.

Of the global travellers surveyed, 70 per cent reported that they would like to receive personalised offers from travel sellers, while 75 per cent are comfortable sharing personal data if it will help them save money or have better journeys.

Despite this, just 20 per cent say they receive offers that reflect their interests, travel behaviours or stage in their lives. This is despite the travel sector being one of the pioneering e-commerce sectors and one of the largest digital commerce sectors globally.

Travel industry thought-leader and author of the report, Henry Harteveldt from Atmosphere Research Group, said: “The travel technology world is thriving, but poor digital experiences weaken the joy of travel and weaken the potential profitability of travel retailers. Entering the era of complete retailing is the next frontier for travel retailers, where they are dynamically creating and selling relevant, personalised, appealing offers to travellers. Cloud and machine learning technologies that deliver data driven responsive technologies will be core to this.”

He added: “Groundbreaking travel technology companies are already delivering new generations of nimble and responsive technologies that are helping travel sellers to maximise sales opportunities spanning every travellers’ journey, and enter the era of complete retailing.”

CarTrawler, for example, provides the technology for airlines to offer car rental, private airport transfers and on-demand ride hailing services at more than 50,000 locations in 174 countries. Working with more than 100 airlines, CarTrawler expands the airline’s offering to their customers.

Data is at the core of CarTrawler’s offering; the company uses data effectively to tailor offers to increase the potential of a traveller making a purchase. In CarTrawler’s first year of working with SWISS and Vueling, each airline saw its car rental conversion increase by 151 per cent and 298 per cent, respectively.

Boxever, the data and personalisation firm working with major airlines around the world, has been one of the pioneers in harnessing the strengths of data, AI and machine learning to help airlines such as Emirates, Ryanair and Volaris to use their data better and offer smart, effective personalisation to improve conversion rates and average order value.

Hostelworld helps hostels worldwide that especially cater for millennial and Gen Z guests to offer a complete retailing solution with their property management system software. As well as managing occupancy, the software is configured to sell ancillary services online, helping hostels to improve guest experience, reduce operating costs and drive ancillary sales.

The Maximizing Revenue across the Traveler’s Journey report was commissioned by Ireland’s trade and innovation agency, Enterprise Ireland.

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