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It would have been a laughable notion years ago, but with the ubiquity of mobile devices, the rise of mobile-only travel agencies is a very real trend. 53% of Cleartrip’s traffic comes from mobile and 70% of its mobile customers are now using mobile as their only channel for transactions. In this scenario, we imagine a mobile travel retailer with an addictive app, accompanying the traveller throughout the journey.
Online travel agencies and airlines are already adapting to this changing behaviour, imagining a new travel life-cycle and rethinking their mobile strategy with mobile-first designs and by pushing relevant notifications at the right time. Other practices we’ve seen lately include dedicated mobile promotions that are not available on other distribution channels, the use of ‘swipe to like’ search functions for inspiration, and a focus on last-minute bookings for post-flight purchases such as accommodations, car rentals, and at-destination services. Additionally, online travel retailers are increasingly partnering with start-ups to widen their mobile offerings.
Mobile travel retailers will be characterised by the use of new technologies to promote search and inspiration such as beacons, the Internet of Things and virtual reality. They will also make full use of chatbots to enable booking flow, servicing, and payment. And mobile apps will go beyond just servicing the traveller. They will also be used by someone not travelling for destination services, user generated content and other innovative services that keep inspiring the customer for their next trip.
Becoming a mobile-first travel retailer will impact every component of travel agency architecture, as each feature will need to be adapted to work better in this channel.
Chat channels will require their own investment, with a number of specific components, such as natural language recognition and artificial intelligence logic, specifically designed for travel-specific cases.
Alternative methods of payment like virtual cards, PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Wallet, WeChat wallet, and Alipay, to name but a few will be the norm moving forward.
Most players have taken the online shopping experience to mobile. The challenge will be to fully tailor the content and user experience to this unique channel.
Mobile travel retailers will disrupt markets with high mobile penetration and present a new way to stay with customers before, during and after a trip, presenting further opportunities to sell, while facilitating the ultimate end-to-end experience.
To learn more about the rise of mobile travel retailers and the other trends on the horizon, download our research paper Online Travel 2020: Evolve, Expand or Expire . To view the technology blocks to become a Mobile Travel Retailer, download ourinfographic now!