Today, we live in an era where we expect travel to be personalized, relevant, and easy to buy. At the same time, we all want to be able to choose how we shop. And this is why, despite the rise in direct bookings, travel agencies and travel management companies (TMCs) are here to stay. They are a vital part of the mix.
Travelers expect the travel industry to behave like the retail industry
If we look at the retail industry, the most successful brands have a consistent image and offer a consistent service to their customers, whether it’s online or offline. Consumers expect this, and get frustrated when it isn’t the case. Consumer trust is about understanding and knowing that what you are going to purchase and that how you’ll be treated will be the same, whether you’re in a shop or on a website.
A simple comparison comes to mind with my smartphone. I choose the model based on my requirements, such as camera, storage and size. This could be viewed as the initial flight purchase when it comes to destination, class, schedule and meal. I can keep on personalizing my phone with apps, in the same way I personalize my travel with ancillary services, accommodation, activities and tours.
In this case, I can buy the phone that I want, where I want, at the same price. As for the apps, it’s easy, I can download WhatsApp by going to whatsapp.com, getting a link to the App Store, or by going directly there on my phone. Either way, I get the same availability and price everywhere, and, as a consumer, I would expect the same when it comes to looking for my next flight.
The proliferation of travel content is exhilarating
Aside from personalization, we are now also entering the era of content creation in the travel industry. Many travel players are sourcing their own user-generated content as an additional service for their customers, or even taking it a step further. What if you can find the best deal for flying between Madrid and New York by combining various carriers that today don’t work together or interline yet? Would you risk booking two separate flights and not being rebooked automatically if your first flight is delayed? Many people wouldn’t.
This is a huge opportunity in the travel industry. There are many areas where the industry needs to collaborate more effectively to act in the traveler’s best interest. And this is where the excitement lies when it comes to content creation. It is up to every player to decide upon their best strategy to make sense of their market, their strengths and their customers. But what all players have in common is the traveler.
For more insights on the future of managed travel – download our report Better Business, Smarter Travel: Perspectives on the future of Managed Travel 3.0.