Sojern presented alongside Expedia and HostelWorld. The aim of the evening was to delve into what we can expect from the future of the industry. There was also a round of quick-fire pitches from start-ups including Triptease, Tripster, Hostmaker and UnderTheDoormat.
Travel is one of the hottest sectors in technology right now. The sharing economy has opened up the market for how we travel. The likes of Airbnb make it easy to stay anywhere from a yurt to a gondola hanging above the French alps. Moreover, the proliferation of travel information puts the power firmly in the consumer’s hands.
Tom O’Meara, editor of StrategyEye, pointed out that in this year alone, $880m has already been invested in online travel. Investors are still seeing a lot of investment potential in the booking space. OneFineStay featured in the top 10 deals of 2015 with an investment of $40m. Airbnb pulled in $1.5bn of private equity this year.
StrategyEye predicted that the pressure on airlines to innovate and keep up with the rest of the industry will continue in order to stay ahead of competition. With travel-focused apps emerging all the time and the introduction of free Wifi already on eight airlines, brands need to focus on innovation and putting the customer at the heart of the experience.
Insights on The Path to Purchase
The digital pathway to travel booking is a complex and fragmented one. Our very own Russell Young, Commercial Director for EMEA & APAC at Sojern pointed out, “The way we consume travel, research travel and book travel has and is changing.” Ottakar Rosenberger, CMO at HostelWorld highlighted the thought and planning that travellers invest in their trip. The average traveller conducts 20 searches before purchasing, compared to 3 for car insurance.
The theme of personalisation and tailoring your approach continued throughout all the presentations. Andrew Cocker, Senior Marketing Director of Expedia EMEA spoke to how the balance has definitely tipped towards consumers now, due to the sheer volume of information sources available. “Previously there was a complete lack of empowerment to the consumer as they needed a travel agent to book travel.” It’s clear that travel brands must now shift to a consumer-centric model that offers a more personalised message to keep this new wave of informed travellers engaged. “We have less control over consumers than we maybe ever have, but with data and understanding and activating that data, we can ensure we are targeting the right traveller, with the right message at the right time,” Sojern commented.
This increased focus on personalisation means wide-scale innovation across the sector. Companies like HotelTonight plan to offer concierge services on your mobile. Hilton will allow you to choose your exact room after seeing a 360 degree view of each room via their smartphone app. Rosenberger predicted much more innovation in this area, prompting potential for further investment.
Mobile Devices: ‘Yes’ to research, ‘Maybe’ to booking
The drive towards mobile is not slowing down either, according to Expedia. Andrew Cocker highlighted that around 30% of trips are booked on mobile currently. He anticipates that this will grow to around 50% in the next year. The amount of research on mobile devices has been quick to grow. But, the jump to booking on a mobile has been comparatively slower.
It’s clear to see how quickly the travel industry is moving. Whe likes of Hostmaker quickly became Airbnb’s largest service provider and broke even within the first 12 months. This is a sector ripe for further innovation and investment. In order to keep up, travel brands need to continue to evolve and adapt to enhance the customer experience. As Rosenberger stated of the future of travel, “Only a third of travel is online which means we have a long way to go yet!”
Looking for help on how to make the most of the future of travel? Get in touch with one of our travel specialists.