Competing in the digital ecosystem

Despite the dominance of Expedia Inc, Priceline Group and Ctrip, there are enough openings and opportunities for travel agents of all shapes and sizes –  online, offline and emerging startups – to succeed.

We know that the bigger picture for international travel is positive, with most organisations predicting year-on-year growth into the medium term.  At the same time, online travel – which now includes mobile – continues to grow as a proportion of the overall market, even in mature e-commerce regions such as Europe and North America.

The connected traveler” is driving this continued online and mobile growth. One constant when it comes to travel today is traveler reliance on, and desire for, connectivity. The mobile phone is no longer an optional accessory for the majority of travelers. Many even tote tablets and laptops as they travel. This creates a complicated web of potential touchpoints for agencies.

Defining connected traveler’s complexities

Agents are aware of the complex and connected nature of the 21st-century traveler. Is a fortysomething middle management business traveler “connected” in the same way as a backpacking digital native? Do apps or mobile web convert better than desktop or are they more about service? At what point does targeted messaging cross the line from insightful to intrusive?

The Connected Traveler paper works to structure this chaos. It provides a cut-out-and-keep guide to the topline issues that need to be addressed by online and offline travel agents, their travel suppliers and their technology partners.

The connected traveler is the topic of our Tnooz webinar “Tools and tips to drive online success for agencies and travel sellers.

For example, Sabre has identified five demands that the connected traveler places on travel agents. The intensity of the requirement varies according to region, demographic or travel intent. Here are the key areas to address:

  • seamless customer experience
  • instant research
  • consistent customer interactions
  • 24/7 service
  • video content

4 ways to connect with digital travelers

There are 4 opportunities for travel agents with an online and mobile presence to engage digitally savvy consumers via their preferred channel of interaction:

  1. increased personalization and relevance
  2. engagement through real-time conversations
  3. optimized omnichannel footfall
  4. preference-driven offers to maximise yield

Dutch online travel agent Otravo, the parent company of and World Ticket Center, worked with Sabre on a clear plan for innovation and to develop new capabilities for customized travel arrangements. The result – bookings were up 30% year over year, turnover was up 40%.

Travel agents need to be confident that the partner they choose understands travel, travelers and technology – a partner who provides more than just content, instead a true business advocate which understands and invests in meeting the needs and interests of all travel constituents – agents, suppliers and travelers.

Resources such as The Connected Traveler white paper, and the free webinar hosted with Tnooz, are a great way to start finding out how Sabre can help your business ride the wave of growth. To join January’s webinar, please click here. To dive into the research, click here.

This article originally appeared on Tnooz