Travel companies continue to seek ways of removing friction and improving the travel experience for consumers.
Some have added new forms of payment, enabling consumers to spread the cost of travel, while others have introduced new insurance initiatives to reassure travelers should their plans change.
Earlier this month, Aloke Bajpai, CEO of Ixigo, hinted in an interview with PhocusWire that the company was about to add another fintech product to give customers additional flexibility around bookings.
To that end, the travel app has unveiled Ixigo Flex, which allows travelers to purchase flexible airline tickets with no extra payment for rescheduling apart from any fare difference.
Ixigo says the Flex product, which is available for domestic flights, offers a “one-time rescheduling request” that covers change of date, change of airline and an option to change the origin/destination.
Rajnish Kumar, co-founder and group chief product and technology officer, says: “With travel coming back with a vengeance, and the rise of the hybrid work model, there is a demand for even more flexibility when it comes to making changes to travel itineraries without incurring heavy penalties and rescheduling flights in a fully automated manner.”
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The Ixigo Flex product comes on top of Ixigo Assured, the company’s cancel-for-any-reason product.
In his recent interview with PhocusWire, Bajpai said the company plans to invest “more time and energy in these sorts of products.” He added that the approach is similar to U.S-based Hopper, noting that Hopper CEO Fred Lalonde is on Ixigo’s board.
“Our discussions with [Lalonde] helped us build more conviction that these work but we built them independently with the data,” he said.
Elsewhere, Amadeus is adding buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) options to its Xchange Payment Platform through partnerships with Uplift and Fly Now Pay Later.
The partnerships enable airlines, travel agencies and hotels to add BNPL options to their sales channels.
Amadeus says its research shows most consumers will spend more on travel if BNPL options are available and the majority will also be more likely to purchase ancillary services.
Beatrice Bouju, head of partnerships, payments at Amadeus, says: “The growth of BNPL across all sectors has been remarkable and the message from travelers is clear – they want the choice to pay for the trip in installments. Such payment options will help travel’s recovery by facilitating pent-up demand for higher value holidays as travel restrictions are lifted.”
New research from McKinsey details how payment innovation can help airlines improve the customer experience, increase revenue and decrease costs.
The report says that airline booking payment transactions, valued at about $1 trillion annually, carry a cost with the industry spending in excess of $20 billion each year on payment costs.
And, it’s clear that improving the customer experience and driving efficiency is not unique to airlines and OTAs, as the wider industry accepts the need for greater efficiency and a more seamless journey.
In related news, the Moscow Central Circle (MCC) railway line has launched “Face Pay” biometric fare payments at all stations.
The facial recognition payment system is now available at 85 turnstiles at 31 MCC stations following a period of testing.
Moscow Metro says that 190,000 users have registered for Face Pay and more than 33 million rides have been taken using the biometric system.
The service is currently being tested in buses and will also be launched on river transport by the end of the year.