Recently I’ve been working with some digital strategists in the travel industry and it was incredibly timely that our partner SDL has released some new research that they have distilled down to 5 Digital customer experience trends disrupting the travel industry (link is to a report that requires registration) and I thought I’d share them here, with some of our experience.
They’ve identified these trends as:
- Silent Traveler – As in many industries, SDL have identified that the travel booking customer journey has been disrupted by digital. Identifying the challenge for travel websites to engage the invisible (or silent) visitor, that now never talk to you, in an industry that has traditionally been one of an agent discussing options with the traveller. A challenge that has certainly been top of mind in my recent client conversations as travel organizations look to grab a greater slice of the audience attention, create stickiness and maybe even loyalty.
- Curation Comes to Travel Listings – The curated serving of travel options has become the ubiquitous user experience. The challenge is how do organizations differentiate? And as SDL point out, how do you then do this as the screen gets smaller, the pressure is on to deliver relevant search results that help the traveller to action.
- Guest Social Amplification – Trip Advisor is the poster child of online review sites, used as an example of the power of social empowered consumer and travelers are hugely influenced by the opinions of their peers. It’s mainstream behavior that’s not just limited to the digital native, but something I see my own parents doing. The challenge is therefore how do you manage reviews, leverage the good reviews and how do you engage customers to the point that they will share a positive comments and amplify them.
- Innovative Disruption Turns to Collaboration – Hmm… this is the terminology used in the report, but in this blog post on the SDL blog the author (James Ainsworth) and the infographic refers to “Mobile-first disrupts traditional travel institutions”, which is certainly a part of 1 & 2 above but if you read the report the references to AirBnB and Uber (the sharing economy) are interesting. I think it’s more than mobile as the industry needs to react to not just the channel of engagement (mobile/digital) but changes in the way services are provided and the relationship these services have with their consumers.
- Metasearch – This is certainly a hot topic with the clients I speak to, with the strength of dominant players like Expedia, Priceline’s Booking.com and their recent acquisition of Kayak – and the report shares some statistics from some research by L2, mentioned in a blog post from World Travel Market:
39% of Millennials source their travel via metasearch rather than traditional OTAs or brand sites, compared to only 23% among the baby boomers. Millennials will be dominating the world as baby boomers start dying out, so they are setting the trends.
Yes, we at Tahzoo are slightly wary of the broad generalization of the Millenial, but clearly the trend among the digital savvy consumer, whether learned or born with it, points to a disruptive challenge to this market, culminating in this final point.
Across all 5 of these trends the challenge (or opportunity) to differentiate in this industry is to create consumer engagement, during a highly transactional experience.
It’s a delicate balance of letting the consumer achieve their task, without interrupting and yet broaden the conversation with the visitor, to engage with the brand, to select additional services and to create some “stickiness” to the digital relationship.