If one of your new year’s resolutions is to keep a finger on the pulse of expected travel trends to 2020… good news! You can do it right here.
For the last four years, Travelport has produced comprehensive reports on travel trends to watch out for.
2020 is no different. The most recent trends reports have blended industry expert opinions with a survey of 23,000 consumers and 100 senior travel professionals.
This research resulted in three travel trends reports – online, mobile and consumer (you can find them here).
To help digest all the information, PhocusWire will be broadcasting the Travel Trends 2020 free webinar on Thursday, January 30, 2020. Click here to register.
Here’s a flavor of what you can expect.
What’s coming in mobile?
Four years ago when Travelport released the first Travel Trends report the volume of mobile search had just begun to take over from desktop search as the main source of traffic in certain countries.
In 2020 mobile will likely be the dominant source of traffic in the majority of countries around the world.
While mobile is now crucial for traffic, it is also growing in importance for conversions and sales. A significant portion of travelers surveyed (~75% of leisure and ~80% of business) admitted they have booked and paid for travel on mobile at some stage.
With that in mind, travel companies need to provide an end-to-end customer experience on mobile that spans research, comparison, booking, pre-trip, in-trip, and post-trip communication.
Like night follows day, the mobile world of corporate travel inevitably (and eventually) imitates what is happening in consumer travel.
Driven by an expectation from the modern business traveler that the same ease of use, UI and ultimately the functionality that they’ve come to expect from consumer apps should also be available in their business life has seen mobile innovation become the mobile everyday in the last few years.
Mobile trends to watch out for in 2020.
Voice: Admittedly the use cases of voice technology in business travel so far have firmly landed in the "not much benefit" category. In 2020 and beyond the focus will shift towards conversational and even transactional applications for voice technology.
It’s time for the corporate travel world to think less about flight status questions and more "can you book a table tonight at my favorite French restaurant in Boston" and then "I want to take the client to highly recommended play in the theatre near me."
Add in a simple, 'expense tonight’s receipts' spoken request in the Lyft on the way back to the hotel, and then we’ll really be talking business.
Super apps: While some westerners have heard the term super apps, Asian travelers have been using WeChat, Grab and Go-Jekfor several years. A super app is a single gateway into an ecosystem of products and services that removes the need to call up individual apps.
Travel brands need to go to where the customer is.If providing an end-to-end customer experience is truly the problem the travel industry is trying to solve, the super app could be the solution. There are only a limited number of western contenders, so watch this space closely.
Machine learning: Speaking of AI and chatbots, machine learning can be used to add a predictive element to consumer engagement. Just over a third of travelers told Travelport that a frustration during the booking process is “companies I use regularly not remembering my preferences”. That’s where machine learning comes in.
The possibilities for artificial intelligence and machine learning in travel are immense. From helping travelers save time by simplifying search to helping businesses save money with more effective policy parameters.
Machine learning is revolutionizing what it means to book and manage travel. Because of this, forward-thinking travel brands focused on growth recognize the opportunities AI is creating for them in corporate travel.
Online life is real life
When Expedia started the online travel adventure over two decades ago, travelers entered origin, destination, dates, the number of passengers and results were returned displaying airline logos, departure times, and a price.
Since then the number of OTAs has grown steadily, yet many still offer the same user experience as Expedia provided 20 years ago.
All this needs to change in 2020.
Online trends to watch out for in 2020.
Going forward, we will see an accelerated rate of change in the way travel is retailed and purchased online. As we mentioned above, travelers are looking for an Amazon-esque experience from travel brands.
This includes a wider choice of rich content, more comparable offerings, more focus on relevance than magnitude, and an increase in automation and personalization that enables customer self-service.
A big ask you might say, but not beyond the bounds of reach with the technology available.
Customer acquisition:Gone are the days of relying mainly on Google to source traffic for travel company websites.
SEO tactics are less effective thanks to Google’s maneuverings on the SERP (search engine results page). By launching Google Travel, the search engine giant has cannibalized the SERP for its benefit.
There could be little point in competing hard for the top-ranking position if Google is placing its product on top of this result. Equally, ads, featured snippets, knowledge panels sometimes push the position one result below the fold.
The evolution of metasearch continues with companies making a play to own the customer relationship. Skyscanner are now offering three different ways to purchase the tickets sourced on their website.
Organic traffic will still play a role, but online travel brands will need to invest more money into SEO to get/stay on top of the SERP and/or accelerate their efforts in other acquisition channels, such as social media, chatbots, display, traditional media – even car infotainment systems.
Ultimately, the future of customer acquisition will see the travel brands who undertake more targeted traveler engagement – and not the ones with the biggest budgets to spend on search tactics –win the customer.
In light of what’s written above, e-commerce travel companies need to change their focus.
Naturally, attention has been pretty skewed towards conversions and making sales.
In 2020, end-to-end engagement from discovery to post-trip must be the focus.
Ten years ago, we had "Generation Calculation"
Travel brands would cast their advertising and promotional nets wide to consumers, offered them flights, hotels, and cars with the simple goal of transacting.
Customers researched their trip online for months in advance before booking their holiday.
They’d book a flight, hotel, or car; receive an email; print out the itinerary and get a boarding pass. The online retail experience back then was desktop-led, with a focus on the transaction.
Today we’ve got "Generation Now"
Consumers want an experience that is transparent, immediate and connected 24/7.
With the constant flow of new technologies behaviors have changed and consumers now expect to be able to interact with travel brands when they want, how they want, on the right channel, and at the right moment.
"Generation Now" are looking to book days in advance, and not just by searching via your site on their mobile device. They’ll expect to use mobile voice, social, chat, and even imagery to research and book their flight.
They want clarity around flight bundles, seating choices, in-flight entertainment, and, of course, wi-fi. 70% of travelers say good online reviews are an important factor in choosing accommodation.
The connection and experience can’t stop once the booking is confirmed. They want this experience to be personalized. The modern traveler needs pre-trip, in-trip and post-trip affirmation and communication.
This may sound difficult technologically but there is a host of microservice APIs that can solve for this customer equation.
Using microservices APIs can speed up development time and integrate with multiple content sources.
The difficulty presented by the ever-increasing demands of travelers is revealing a massive opportunity for the travel brands willing to step up. Travel Trends 2020 is providing a roadmap to the future of the industry. The early adopters and disruptors will be the winners.
You can find all the Travel Trends 2020 content behind this here.
Travel trends 2020: Discover the latest in online and mobile travel
This event will take place on Thursday, January 30, 2020.