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For the past 15 years travel consumers have gotten used to and now take for granted an instant and six-sigma-process-confirmed travel booking be it for a flight, hotel, bus, or holiday package that includes all the above. The base technology that allows for this is the ‘API’ — application programming interface — which is the key to accessing data stores on inventory availability across the universe of travel products.
APIs allow for storefronts (websites) to communicate with warehouses (flight operator/hotel operator) regarding availability of (seats / rooms) and communicate the same to the customer to allow for a booking to take place.
When this happened, the universe of travel services opened up to travel websites to market and bring to the domain of consumer marketplaces allowing consumers unlimited access to purchase these travel services for a small transaction fee. Over time as this became easier even the travel website or online travel agent became a middleman reducing fee even further.
With this, we see the advent of travel services using technology to truly disrupt the consumer and supplier experience has now transformed.
A module that allows consumers to bid the price they would like to pay for travel services and the supplier can choose to accept that bid for the inventory auctioned or reject that bid.
Last Minute Inventory Sale
Taking off from reverse bidding the concept of selling last minute bookings via separate distribution platforms that don’t cannibalize the regular sales channels allows suppliers to sell loss making inventory at break even rates to savvy travellers.
Cookie Sharing Digital Marketing
A new age concept that allows travel advertisers to lower the cost of customer acquisition by advertising on cookie lists (remarketing lists) shared with other travel operators — Ex. An OTA allows a taxi company to advertise services to customers who have booked flights to cities of arrival.
Comparison Of Travel Services
More and more offline tour operators and suppliers are realizing the importance of customer experience stories, reviews, and the value of allowing customers to compare apple to apple the travel services they provide for customers to make the right decision. Doing so involves scraping meta data from the web on these services, putting it together in a coherent manner, allowing a consumer to make sense out of it.
Chat-assisted travel to corporate and leisure customers is the most popular service. Calls are archaic and eat into travellers’ cost and time, while chat is non-intrusive and allows for a record of all communications which is preferred by all parties involved. If you can offer a seamless chat connect between supplier and customer, that’s half the battle won!
The above are some of the most recent travel technologies that are helping businesses capture larger consumer experiences. I believe if you have the will to execute these at scale or can partner with a provider then you are set for the next 5 years!