The rapid pace of the evolution of the technological landscape creates an ever-changing environment that many businesses have a hard time adjusting to. The travelling industry is no exception.
The growing use of mobile has led people to use their smartphones for things they did not use the devices for even six months ago. Meanwhile, new business models have appeared and acted as disruptive forces to the travel market.
So, how are you supposed to make sense of the situation and devise a strategy that will work for at least the near future? In an article for Tnooz.com, EyeforTravel editor Pamela Whitby asks a few questions that can be used as a guide to crush the competition.
The first one, naturally, is about mobile -- what and how do you sell on such devices? While there is no direct answer to that, a good starting point would be understanding your customer. People tend to plan and daydream about vacations for long periods, usually researching options via their smartphone. Such a well planned vacation, however, is more likely to be booked via desktop.
Mobile, on the other hand, is where urgent, last-minute bookings are taking place. Tomas Laboutka, CEO and co-founder of HotelQuickly -- a platform that offers just that kind of service -- says that this is a stream of customers hotels should tap into. Otherwise, they will be missing out on a great opportunity.
OK, so you should be focusing on last-minute bookings via mobile devices. But "mobile" stands for a variety of devices that people do different things on. The second question you should ask yourself is exactly what kind of devices to target? Whitby quotes Silvercar vice president Allen Darnell, who believes that you should be focusing on smartphones, not tablets, since smartphone users generate more revenue.
What about wearables then? Google Glass has been around for a while, isn't this the future? According to EyeforTravel general manager Gina Baillie, no, it's not. The limited popularity of the Google wearable is a clue that suggests people find it too intrusive. However, he also notes that smartwatches may actually be the next thing to take off.
Then come the industry disrupters like metasearch sites and peer-to-peer services. Do they pose a threat? In Whitby's words, metasearch -- services like Trivago that search various booking sites and compare offers -- are actually a channel that brings in customers. The only problem with them is if they become biased and favour some agencies over others. And since such services have recently been purchased by big online travel agencies, bias seems like a legitimate risk.
Meanwhile peer-to-peer sites -- for example, ones that offer customers ways to hook up and use a single vehicle if they're travelling to the same destination -- are not a real threat. Even though they are basically rendering travel agencies useless, Whitby notes that such services always boil down to trust. And the majority of people would rather trust an agency than a stranger.