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by Molly Jones
Part 2 of our Hackathon: TTX Blog Series focuses on Personalized Experiences and Unified Commerce.
On June 24th, the developers at Hackathon:TTX will face off in a 24-hour coding competition to build B2B and B2C solutions that address three issues in the travel industry: Frictionless Experience, Personalized Experience, and Unified Commerce. In the first blog in this two part-series, we explored what it means to create a Frictionless Experience for travelers. Now, we’ll conclude our discussion with a look at how ideas centered on Personalized Experience and Unified Commerce are paving the future of travel shopping and booking.
Gone are the days of “one size fits all” vacation packages – the next generation of travelers has spoken, and they want a travel experience as unique as they are. And travelers are willing to share their secrets to get that experience – around 40% of consumers would give up personal data in order to get personal service and recommendations from the travel companies they interact with. Particularly in the hospitality industry, hotels are using personalization to earn brand loyalty, offering services like text message room service, in-room television streaming services, and even exclusive on-site concerts for loyalty program members.
The idea of using personalization to keep customers coming back is nothing new – make someone feel special, and they’ll likely think highly enough of your service to become a repeat customer. However, technology is making the practice of personalization easier than ever – and more effective. Take mobile technology, for instance. People today keep their lives on their phones, so personalization in the mobile sphere represents a huge opportunity for travel providers. Travel apps can utilize social network profiles to make tailored recommendations and offers to travelers based on the destination they are exploring.
Mobile or not, another huge opportunity for personalization lies in the overall travel shopping and planning process. Much like search engines remember consumer searches to choose what ads are seen, search history and shopping data are a goldmine for personalization. As a simple example, a good travel offer for a consumer searching for both “beach vacations” and “best local coffee” would be a Hawaiian vacation package with a Kona coffee tour. Or, for something a little less invasive, a company could jump on the popularity of Buzzfeed quizzes and present travelers with a series of preference questions to make travel recommendations. Dating websites and apps like OKCupid already use this strategy to provide tailored matches to singles seeking a partner, so why not adapt this strategy to the travel industry?
Just twenty years ago, calling the airline or a travel agent used to be the only option to book a flight, but now there are a nearly endless number of ways to purchase a trip. Sure, you can still call an airline to book a flight, or you could book the same flight from your mobile phone as easily as sending a series of text messages. With so many portals to book travel, there is a huge challenge in the industry to unify commerce and provide a streamlined booking process. The convenience, and therefore the lack of urgency, of online shopping and the rise of metasearch engines have travel providers struggling to lower look-to-book ratios, or how many times consumers browse an option compared to how often a booking actually occurs.
A more unified purchasing experience can benefit the consumer as much as it does the travel provider. Metasearch engines are so popular because they inspire confidence that a shopper is getting the best deal out of all booking options – without actually having to comb the Internet. To keep up, online travel agencies and travel suppliers need to think creatively about the shopping experience to secure bookings through their own channels. For example, online retailers of all kinds use everything from targeted ads to email reminders to draw consumers back in to purchase items they left in their shopping carts once they’ve navigated away from the site. For travelers considering a trip to a certain destination, Hipmunk gives the option to “watch a flight” in the form of weekly emails saying whether the flight has gone up, gone down, or remained stable.
The easier a shopping experience is, the more likely it is a customer will use that channel to shop again in the future. To really earn booking channel loyalty, travel content providers need to give their customers a consistent end-to-end booking experience, which is challenging when booking is possible on so many different devices. To create a seamless booking experience, there needs to be a shopping “trail” connecting all of the consumer’s devices, which means tracking search history, populated shopping carts, and portions of the trip already booked as the shopping portal switches between mobile, tablet, desktop, agency, and more. One company showing a great example of this logic is Facebook, which has partnered with countless businesses and social networks to allow users to create profiles on other sites using their Facebook log in credentials.
If the same universal “lock-and-key” concept can be applied to travel booking, combined with the types of personalized offers described above, then the industry is well on its way to innovating the travel experience early on in the process. While our awesome developers at Hackathon:TTX may not be able to create a supersonic jet in 24 hours, Sabre Dev Studio is so excited to see what amazing frictionless, personalized, and unified travel experience solutions our hackers will come up with.
Think you’ve got what it takes to redefine the traveler experience? Bring it on! Register now for Hackathon: TTX, which goes down June 24th-25th at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. We’re looking forward to seeing what you’ve got when the competition heats up. Is it a new B2B solution for Sabre Red Workspace? Is it a groundbreaking travel app? Will it solve the pain points of travel disruption or revolutionize itinerary management? It’s up to you! You bring the creativity, and we’ll arm you with the right tools to bring it to life. Book your time at Hackathon: TTX now!