Guest Opinion: Building a Better Travel Experience with Consumer-Focused Technology
School is out and summer is in full swing, which means consumers are starting to travel or are arranging plans for getaways. Today’s travelers have a myriad of options when it comes to booking tickets, transportation, and accommodations, and there’s stiff competition to earn their business. Travelers will ultimately choose the services and businesses that offer them the best overall experience, from the first click of the mouse to depositing them at their front door after a long trip.
Optimizing technology is one of the best ways to improve the travel experience for consumers, both in the planning stages and during their actual trip. To make sure that your company is building a better experience for your users, here are some considerations to keep in mind.
Increase Convenience and Efficiency
Are your app and website easy to navigate? Can consumers easily access your services on their mobile device? These may seem like obvious questions, but around 44 percent of Fortune 500 companies’ websites still aren’t mobile optimized, which is not only inconvenient for consumers, but can also hurt businesses as consumers increasingly expect to do everything from their smartphone.
Along with users abandoning services out of frustration, business visibility may suffer, given that Google recently adjusted its algorithm to favor mobile-friendly sites. Businesses may see mobile optimization as a priority but aren’t taking the necessary steps to get there.
This is especially important in the travel industry, as a recent survey from Destination Analysts found that almost 60 percent of respondents used a mobile phone and/or tablet device to plan travel. Make sure that your site is optimized for users switching among devices – that will make it more convenient for consumers to pick up their plans where they left off and complete their purchase or book travel on the go.
Incorporate a Seamless Checkout Process
Convenience and efficiency are most important in the checkout process, as getting consumers to purchase, and not abandon, their cart is what impacts your bottom line. For a seamless checkout experience, make sure users can quickly and easily complete a purchase through your mobile site or app. Also, ensure that your users have ample payment options to choose from.
Minimizing key entry is another way to expedite checkout, since customers are more motivated to complete their purchases when they don’t have as many data fields to fill out. Consider leveraging card scanning technology, which auto populates personal information – particularly critical during a mobile transaction – and increases conversions.
Reduce Wait Times with New Technology
More airlines are offering consumers the opportunity to check in for international, not just domestic, flights ahead of time. Validating a passport to get a mobile boarding pass issued 24 hours in advance of a flight saves travelers precious time as they no longer need to wait in the check-in line or kisok at the airport counter to show their passport.
In addition, travelers who check-in earlier are typically more likely to be eligible for upgrades and other perks that are often found on a first-come first-served basis. Allowing users to complete this part of the process from the convenience of their smartphone provides more efficiency to travelers and gives you another edge over the competition.
Pay Extra Attention to the Sharing Economy
Hotels and taxis are not the only accommodation and transportation options for travelers. The increased popularity of sharing economy services like Airbnb and Uber have completely transformed the traditional travel ecosystem. While the sharing economy provides an easy way for travelers to save money and have a more “local” experience, it also leaves these companies, and their users, vulnerable and with an increased need for additional security measures.
Companies in this space must take extra precautions when it comes to securing and authenticating personal information, through multi-layered security processes. And while ease of use for customers should always be a key consideration, companies should also realize that creating friction in the sign-up process may actually deter criminal activity in this sector.
Retain Loyalty with Incentives
A Collinson Group study found that travelers who fly or stay in hotels at least a few times a year are more often swayed by reward program offers when it comes to making travel decisions. The same study also found that once members start to redeem reward points, they can be five to seven times more profitable to a business than those who don’t, making loyalty programs a major opportunity for businesses. Make sure you are offering the right incentives to your customers, and that they can be redeemed within the checkout process to reduce friction and increase overall transactions.
Businesses that prepare accordingly for the summer travel season can provide customers with an efficient, seamless experience, helping to gain new customers and keep regular ones returning time and time again.
Marc Barach is Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer for Jumio, a leading identity management and credentials company that works with companies such as United Airlines, Airbnb, Equifax and many others to create a more efficient and safer transaction environment.
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