With texting, instant messaging, email, phone calls and website searches—sometimes going on all at once—the window to capture the attention of digital travelers is preciously narrow. And the explosion of low-cost mobile technologies now enables consumers to be online anytime, anywhere. Combine all this with the rising number of airlines, flights and airfare options around the globe, it’s the perfect storm.
At the same time, as more and more permutations and computations take place for each online air search, the conversion rates of online travel agencies are plummeting. Consumers now bounce across multiple travel-fare sources, aggregators and search engines. They may end up viewing hundreds of different flight options in one sitting. To solve this challenge and eliminate consumer frustrations—and prompt consumers to book flights—travel providers and resellers need to make sure that the content offered via the online search experience is easy to find, relevant to their individual needs, and quickly delivered.
There’s a clear correlation between delivery speed and conversion. As more of our lives have moved online, consumers have become less patient with how long they’re willing to wait to receive information. A September 2016 study by DoubleClick found that 53 percent of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take longer than three seconds to load. Meanwhile, a study from Akamai and Gomez.com found that 47 percent of consumers expect web pages to load in less than two seconds.
They also want the information they receive to be filtered in a way that specifically makes sense for them. According to a survey from Think with Google and Ipsos MediaCT, 57 percent of leisure travelers and 64 percent of business travelers always start their travel booking and shopping process with search. However, when doing so, travelers looking for a flight or hotel are often presented with hundreds, if not thousands, of options, which can shift dramatically hour by hour. It’s understandable why the process can be somewhat daunting for many customers in the search phase of the travel journey, often leading to lost transactions.
Fortunately, automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies, along with mobility, the cloud and increasingly sophisticated API-connected platforms that allow for content to be consumed more efficiently across devices, are providing travelers with smarter, more personalized, and timely flight and airfare information.
For example, an API optimized for mobile devices makes flight searches fast and easy by accelerating response times and providing the right content by connecting directly to search engines, rather than going through unnecessary network infrastructures. Travel providers and resellers can also deliver message sizes that are a lot smaller, further improving the delivery speed of content to customers.
Flygpoolen is one online travel agency that has enhanced its search experience to improve how travelers interact on their site. As Andreas Delin, Business Development Manager at Flygpoolen explains, “We’re seeing a 100 percent increase in bookings in our major market and a significant improvement in our look-to-book ratio, which will improve our standings with our airline suppliers. Within 10 minutes, an important business decision can be active on search requests.”
In addition to optimizing search experiences, travel providers and resellers are using new technologies to automate tasks previously only possible with human intervention, and are alleviating the friction between providers, agencies, and their travelers at the same time.
Diversity Travel, a full-service travel management company, has put more of a focus on automation through allowing users to automate part of their ticketing operations by creating rules for how and when tickets are issued. According to Matthew Truin, Operations Director at Diversity Travel, “The automation lets our consultants and ticketing department focus on more time-sensitive tasks, resulting in increased levels of efficiency. In addition, we have already seen a significant reduction in the number of quality check discoveries and have positively enhanced the level of customer service that our corporate clients have come to expect.”
Meanwhile, artificial intelligence is increasingly powering chatbots and virtual agents that give travel providers solutions that save time, costs, and increase convenience during the customer support and sales processes. It’s also making workflows more cost efficient, scalable and secure for businesses by adding capabilities such as better payment models and repricing options.
Focusing on better search and more efficient automation has become essential as customer demands rise. Doing so can help drive better business performance and improve overall customer satisfaction and loyalty, and in turn, fuel sales.
Travelport has recently introduced the capability for customers to tailor their search requests for multiple channels, which allows responses to be tailored to a device, persona group, market or sales channel—thereby improving relevancy and conversion. To learn more, please visit Travelport.com.
This article was created collaboratively by Travelport and Skift’s branded content studio, SkiftX.