Transforming Supplier-driven Travel Booking Experience

Internet travel 1.0 was born assuming travelers followed a 3-step Shop-Check-Book process. A decade later, with the advent of Web 2.0, that expanded to a 5-step Dream-Search-Book-Travel-Share process. As the industry matures and travelers become more sophisticated, a 7-step Inspiration-Research-Planning-Validation-Booking-Travel-Sharing cycle is more appropriate.

Transforming Travel Booking - Butterflies | Image Credit: don j schulte @ oxherder arts (cc|flickr)

Butterflies are known for their ability to transform. While these are Queens, their relative the Monarch engages in a multi-generational migration covering thousands of miles each year.
Photo Credit: [email protected] | Flickr

That’s how I started off as the lead-off panelist for the Tnooz-Monetate “Transforming Supplier-driven Travel Booking Experience” webinar. I was followed by Monetate Chief Marketing Officer Kurt Heinemann.

My portion focused on the travel industry landscape – the travel process, types of travel transactions and implications impacting customer conversion and loyalty. Kurt drilled down into the more practical applications of customizing the booking experience based on the information captures through previous interactions and user behaviors.

My multi-step travel process was followed by a discussion of the various methods of transacting travel bookings, including advanced methods such as dynamic and sequential packaging. I could not resist pointing out that the variety of packaging offered by OTAs today is merely the re-bundling of travel components as opposed to true dynamic packaging that is rules-based and results in retail pricing variations based on the efficiency and supplier partnerships of the travel seller.

I then outlined various revenue opportunities available to travel suppliers – and highlighted the cruise industry as an example of a sector that does a much better job of exploiting those opportunities than the others. The last section of my portion dealt with the fact that loyal, repeat customers were not simply discovered, but required a journey into enlightenment regarding enduring brand value.

My closing is seeming to become a permanent slide in every presentation, since I believe the industry cannot be reminded of it too often – Value Drives Transactions, but Values Drive Loyalty. Loyalty is ultimately based on the customer’s appreciation for the shared values between the travel seller, supplier and traveler.

Unfortunately, time did not permit discussion regarding Multiple Traveler Personas or Recommendation Engines, which will also play a role in the radical personalization of the end-to-end travel experience. But like my allusion to Distributed Packaging, the travel industry needs to deal with the basics before embarking on more sophisticated methods to engage customers and enrich travel experiences.

The full webinar, including the question and answer period was recorded and is available below or via YouTube:

If you are interested in reviewing the slides at your leisure, they are available below, plus the full presentation is available for download on SlideShare:

Over 400 people registered for the webinar and the feedback following the session was very positive. Add a comment or use the contact form to ask me any questions you may have – I am happy to answer them.

As I mentioned during the broadcast, I am a fan of Monetate. Their rule’s based approach to tailoring the customer experience in real-time provides marketing departments with significant autonomy from IT departments to manage campaigns. It is very powerful technology and is has produced compelling results for their clients.

About Robert Cole

Robert Cole is the founder of RockCheetah, a hotel marketing strategy and travel technology consulting practice. He also authors the Views from a Corner Suite Blog and publishes the Travel Quote of the Day. Robert speaks regularly at major travel industry conferences, authors articles for leading travel industry publications, advises travel-related startups and the equity investment community. He is an evangelist for the global travel industry.