#4 Weak Spots in the Online Travel Industry
The travel sector is a dynamic space that is making a paradigm shift from offline agents to an online course of action
Travel is not a one-size that fits all. The process of trip planning is a journey in itself, as it incorporates several nodes like selecting destinations, creating the right itineraries, managing bookings and routing — to name a few. These nodes need to be in alignment with multiple factors like budget constraints, internal commute, timing, interests and personal preferences.
The travel sector is a dynamic space that has shown a great amount of responsiveness to IT innovations and is making a paradigm shift from offline agents to an online course of action. The potential of the travel industry, as per the UNWTO report of 2017 highlights to boom in the market share of the tourism industry from 30% in 1980 to 45% in 2016 and further anticipates to reach 57% by 2030, which would see over 1.8 billion international tourist arrivals.
Needless to say, the industry today, has set a pace for itself in the online domain with an automated ecosystem that is constantly evolving. However, there are still many cracks in the online space that need to be filled with more farsightedness and technological acumen. Here are some of the areas in which the automate travel industry still falters:
1. Lack of Personalized Content:
Though personalization is the new buzzword in the industry, the lack of targeted content is limited. Information provided to users by individual trip planning portals needs to be curated in a manner that cuts through the clutter and offers potential travellers only what is relevant to their interests. The idea here is to avoid users from diverting to other websites and reducing their time spent on research by handing them what they need, all under one roof.
2. Limited Flexibility to Customize:
Gone are the days when travellers stuck to rigid, time-bound itineraries and travelled with an intention of checking off points on their list of “things to do”. While a certain chunk of tourists prefers a laid-out plan, the pulse of today’s travel trend lies in the ‘Do It Yourself’ (DIY) model. Flexibility to customize a trip is paramount and can be achieved by letting the user take charge of his/her trip and empowering them with the right tools to go about. This could be in the form of providing more options of destinations to choose from, editing a travel plan at each of its stages and integrating the option of selecting the most feasible mode of transportation.
3. Not Understanding the User’s Purpose of Travel:
The perception of travel has changed from being a holiday or outing to being a channel of cultural confluence, self-discovery and therapy.In an automated space, since technology replaces human interaction, it is difficult to determine what the user’s purpose of travel is. Solo trips, family holidays, honeymoons, quick getaways – each of these serve a different purpose. Getting an insight of the same will help in building the efficiency of the website/app and in turn, give the travellers what they are looking for.
4. No End-to-end Solution:
Travel portals across the globe aim to reduce human dependency and expand the traveller’s room for planning, creating and modifying their trips. However, there is no end-to-end solution, wherein a traveller enters and exits with an airtight itinerary without shuttling between multiple applications.Building a platform that addresses these gaps, will further help in preventing wastage of time and the loss of interest of a traveller.
These loopholes ultimately make us realize the potential for automation within the travel industry and create a roadmap for the way forward. Focus on personalised content and planning, user-friendly functionalities, incorporation of offline maps and a more intelligent tool to overcome the shortcomings of the lack of human interaction is what will steer the online travel industry into a more advanced direction, the one that caters to the entire value chain of a traveller’s journey.
CEO and Co-founder of Taxidio, a global DIY trip planner that acts as an umbrella portal for the different aspects of travel such as destination selection, itinerary creation, travel guides, and hotel and attraction bookings. I am an alumnus of NarseeMonjee Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai, and have worked in sectors such as steel, ports, shipping and telecom for one of India’s biggest conglomerates. Having visited over 25 countries, I have taken my penchant for travelling and turned it into a full-time job.