Over the next 20 years, global demand for air travel will nearly double to 7.2 billion passengers, while inflight broadband connectivity will add $30B of ancillary revenue for airlines by 2035. This generational wave of travelers will be open to packaged experiences far beyond just the airline ticket or hotel room, and their sheer numbers represent a new era of global travel that will radically increase opportunities for airlines, hotels and other travel merchants, strengthen loyalty and grow ancillary revenue.
But what about the near term… the year 2020? And today’s cohort of travelers… what are their expectations? Travel may still be in the early stages of next-gen possibilities, such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence, but make no mistake about it – consumers have high standards for technology, and no supplier, distributor or platform is too big to fail if it does not adapt to customer UX appetites.
New Connections for Travel Ecommerce
Increasingly, providers are thinking about the travel sector as a holistic, interconnected environment for commerce. Instead of re-building everything from within, providers are using travel technology to build a common infrastructure around loyalty and mobile. The “platformization,” or movement to flexible platforms as opposed to the hard-coded and manual method inherited from legacy technology, is helping to move the industry beyond debates such as direct channel versus online travel agency, or core versus ancillary revenue.
Take for example, consumers’ online retail shopping experiences with Amazon. They expect to find everything they need at their fingertips, on a single platform, at the best price, with personal recommendations on complementary products regardless of the suppliers. Likewise, travelers are no longer looking for just a flight, hotel or car. The ability for a customer to find a personalized travel package online through a single booking process—that includes all the offers of their preferred vendors at the best prices—and is supported by their loyalty platform of choice has become the standard. Increasingly more destination information from Google, recommendations from TripAdvisor, social feedback from Facebook, suggestions on activities, shared pictures and videos, etc. will continually expand the richness of the booking experience in the future.
The main priority of travel technology should be to connect the increasingly complex ecosystem of vendors, partners and channels to provide a personalized offering and reinforce and maximize loyalty to the travel suppliers. This will yield more flexible, convenient and memorable travel experiences from the moment consumers book, throughout their trip, and even when they get back home. This Is where we believe travel loyalty is headed for 2020. For more insights on how technology will transform the travel industry over the next few years, download The Future of Travel & Loyalty 2020 Outlook Report today.