A few years ago Expedia published a study that found travelers visited up to 38 sites before booking a vacation. The list was broad and included mobile, OTAs, metasearch engines and expanded over air, hotel, and other aspects of a trip.
I’ve heard seasoned industry experts who clearly were baffled by that number. It seems far too high. But as a millennial that seems pretty on par with my experiences. Take for instance this group chat with my sister, husband, and me who are planning a trip to Scotland, Ireland, and London:
Sister: I checked United and British Airways but I don’t know if we should book yet.
Husband: Yeah, Kayak says we should wait.
Me: Why don’t you put a tracker on Google Flights so we can see when prices drop?
Sister: Should I just use my credit card points and book via Chase.com?
Me: How are we getting to Ireland or Scotland from London?
Husband: Ryan Air? Aer Lingus? I’ll check their sites.
Me: How much do they charge for extra bags or reserved seats?
This conversation went on for about 3 weeks, which resulted in each of us booking through different sites and on different flights. Keep in mind, we hadn’t even booked our hotels, so 38 sites is probably the minimum that we visited. For airline revenue management and pricing professionals, you’re probably thinking about all of the transactions – queries for pricing and availability –hitting your systems for just this one trip. And you understand the costs of those hits to your companies.
For many of us, it’s normal to move from site to site, look at a mobile app one moment and then quickly jump onto a laptop to finish a purchase. However, it’s not always a frictionless process. A recent Google study found that two-thirds of leisure travelers say they double-check prices on a desktop after shopping on a mobile device. Travelers are concerned that they aren’t finding the best price or that the price will change once they clicked to book.
Could airlines make this experience better? If instead of the four-week booking process I had with my trip, what if I had one airline app that knows who I am and quickly bundles my flight, extra baggage, lounge access and maybe even a Lyft to the nearest Taco Bell once I land? The package is priced for my budget and can be booked with a few clicks. Airlines could fulfill every millennial’s fantasy by creating a modern commerce experience from flight availability to creative merchandising.
At PROS, we talk about how airlines can power modern commerce and ensure frictionless, personalized, and omni-channel experiences for their customers. Airlines not only have to ensure their digital experiences attract and convert consumers, but they also need the technology that provides agility, accuracy, and confidence in creating offers for the millions of travelers that fly on their planes. The best news – those experiences are close at hand.
Last evening, PROS announced the acquisition of Vayant Travel Technologies. We’re looking to fulfill the wildest fantasies of airlines, OTAs, and other travel providers through offer optimization. One of the benefits that comes with offer optimization is unrivaled personalization for travel customers and full pricing and packaging control for airlines. We are excited to embark on this journey with airlines and travel providers around the world as we release new capabilities across revenue management, dynamic pricing, merchandising and shopping.
You’ll be hearing a lot more about what PROS and Vayant will do to make the travel experience even better. From where I sit, I know it’s going to reap great awards for customers and for the traveling public. Stay tuned for the great ride ahead.