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Two decades ago the emergence of online travel marked a revolution in the shopping and buying of travel. So with the evolution that has followed, what’s shaping online travel today?
Savvy consumers are looking for personalization, seamless mobility and unique travel experiences. As competition increases and marketing and processing costs rise, travel retailers are challenged to find and keep customers and maintain strong margins. And technology has given rise to unique business models and enhanced traveler options.
As a result, here are four areas that are trending in online travel today.
1. Why go anywhere else
Many online players are banking on offering a true one-stop travel shopping experience — from air tickets, hotels rooms and car rentals to user reviews, theater tickets, dinner reservations and more.
And they continually look to deliver more new and relevant offerings to consumers, whether airline ancillary services like checked bags and premium seats or unique lodgings like tents, yurts and treehouses.
Through their investments in technology, online travel companies also continue to evolve the user experience, from easier mobile navigation to offering more services on their websites to keep the traveler in one place for their entire trip experience .
2. Niche on the rise
Priceline, Orbitz, Expedia, CheapOair and KAYAK continue to be among the biggest and most established players, but new “Davids” are emerging regularly to challenge these Goliaths in online travel.
In recent years there have been a number of new entrants offering new traveler-centric approaches. Routehappy.com helps travelers find “the happiest flight experience for the cheapest price” focusing on amenities such as comfortable seats, Wi-Fi, in-seat power and entertainment. OptionsAway.com enables users to hold their flights for days or weeks while they finalize travel plans. GetGoing.com is focused on making travel smart, personalized and affordable. HotelTonight.com bypassed a website in favor of an app-based approach to selling hotel rooms.
These new players are seeking to reinvent online travel and stake their claim by identifying and addressing opportunities to satisfy new or unmet needs and desires of travelers.
3. Search remains the holy grail
As it was in the beginning, as it is today: optimizing shopping and search remains a top focus in online travel. And today it is more important than ever. Being able to quickly, efficiently and effectively organize, assess, process and curate the millions of online searches conducted daily by travelers is critical to online success.
New approaches to search have emerged, many due to advancements in technology and business intelligence. Vayama.com offers curated airfare search results based on cheapest, fastest, most popular and special offers options. And Expedia.com found that customers will search for a flight online an average of 48 times before booking a trip. Their new Scratchpad feature makes it easy for customers to search and store queries for easy retrieval.
And search data remains the most valuable insight into consumer behavior. By analyzing the tremendous volume of travel search data, online travel companies are in turn able to give travelers more relevant, customized information and results, even at the pre-shopping phases of travel planning.
4. Getting down to business
Historically, online travel was primarily focused on serving leisure travelers. But in recent years, online travel companies and business travelers have recognized the value and benefits of working together.
Particularly for small to medium sized companies, oftentimes online travel agencies offer good, contracted airfares, especially when they are bundled together with hotel nights, allowing a business traveler to secure a good rate.
And employee travelers are happy because booking via the online travel agency still gets them the same benefits – such as frequent flyer and loyalty program credit – as they would booking via airline and hotel websites.
The intersection of corporate and online travel can also be seen in offerings such as Travelocity Business, Orbitz for Business and Expedia’s Egencia business travel component.
Amadeus is strongly committed and focused on continuing to shape the future of online travel and offers the technology solutions, services and expertise that enable online retailers to continue to evolve, innovate and best serve their customers.
This content is created collaboratively in partnership with our sponsor, Amadeus.