Travelport has taken a deep dive into the reasons why travel – “once a digital trailblazer” – has taken the “scenic route“ and is being left behind by other modern retailers. “While other industries fully embraced the possibilities offered by new technology — and used it to reimagine their future — travel has got bogged down by the complexities of its past,” Travelport said.
Following research among almost 3,000 respondents around the world, Travelport found brand recall was poor, most especially in the US and Saudi Arabia. People didn’t recall which travel agency they last booked with. Whether it was Booking.com, lastminute.com, Expedia or another OTA.
Travelport said poor shopping experiences were to blame for online booking, “once a disruptive force in retailing”, becoming “so forgettable”.
“Results show a clear link between the buying process and brand recall – or lack thereof. Happy shoppers remember the retailer. But shoppers that have bland experiences, don’t. And indifference encourages people to play the system,” Travelport added. And while Travelport recognised that OTAs are some of travel’s most modern retailers, “even they’re not getting it fully right”.
“Only two decades ago, they were seen as the changing face of travel. Their customers were enthusiastic, loyal advocates. But now, people can’t even tell them apart.
“And that’s because the industry has been focusing on the wrong things. Low-cost carriers made cheap travel a priority for customers, and since then everyone has been competing mostly on price. This has come at the expense of other things that customers care about too, and it’s made them suspicious,” Travelport said.
“This price competition has caused many booking sites to gradually devolve into a labyrinth of click-through pages, designed to generate more money on top of the basic fare through extras and add-ons.
“But shoppers today are no fools,” Travelport added. “By the time they reach the checkout, they feel irritated, suspicious, and hesitant that if they keep shopping around, they’ll find a better deal.
“Cue: cart abandonment.”
Asian Trails has launched its new B2B online connectivity system eConnect, giving clients access to static rates in key hotels and destinations throughout South-east Asia and China, and a new range of dynamic rates through channel managers and major third-party suppliers.
Powered by 11Infotech, eConnect offers online bookings of hotels, transfers, tours and excursions with immediate confirmation which can be booked as a combination of countries or product in all Asian Trails’ destinations.
Asian Trails is inviting tour operators, online travel agencies or other interested parties to connect their systems to Asian Trails’ API connectivity for hotels, transfers and other activities. Or they can connect through major connectivity hubs or aggregators.
A new Star Alliance-branded credit card is expected to launch in Australia.
The first credit card of its kind it will have the ability to earn Star Alliance Points which can be transferred to a choice of seven Star Alliance member airlines, including Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Air EVA Air Infinity MileageLands, Air New Zealand Airpoints, Thai Royal Orchid Plus.
Cardholders will also be able to earn Star Alliance Silver and Gold status by spending on the card.
The card will be issued by HSBC, probably next week, and is expected to come with an annual fee of A$450, waived in the first year.
A partnership between Booking.com and Amadeus is tipped to streamline the payment process between travel agencies and accommodation providers. Travel agencies reserving Booking.com accommodations through the Amadeus Travel Platform can now choose to process payment using a wider range of virtual cards from Amadeus’ digital wallet, across more than 1.3 million accommodation options.
The Amadeus B2B Wallet solution integrated with Booking.com reduces the demand on travellers to provide upfront payment information or to make payments at the point of check-in or out.
“By helping agents pay for stays with Booking.com’s accommodation partners, we’re removing several points of friction,” said Katja Bohnet, VP hospitality distribution, hospitality, Amadeus.
Travel agents paying for Booking.com hotel stays have the choice of using 14 different card types including credit, debit and pre-paid options, provided by issuing banks from across the world.
When agencies choose to pay this way, the virtual card is automatically recommended within the existing booking flow, saving time and creating efficiency across the entire booking experience.
“Travel agents can align how they make payments depending on their strategic priorities thanks to a wide choice of options from our issuing partners. Accommodation partners will also receive payment quickly and reliably: it’s a win-win-win,” said Bohnet.
Jeremy Cornuau, global director for partnerships, Booking.com, added: “Virtual cards offer significant benefits and are gradually replacing legacy settlement schemes and manual plastic card payments across travel.”
D-EDGE Hospitality Solutions has acquired Paris-based digital marketing agency Equaero .
A Google Premier Partner, Equaero expertise encompasses digital advertising techniques such as search, display, and social ads as well as SEO.
It is also one of the few agencies of its kind to have developed an in-house technology platform for campaign tracking and reporting, and tightened integration with key players in the digital media industry, such as Google, Bing, Yahoo Japan etc.
Pierre-Charles Grob, CEO of D-Edge, says, “Our mission is to ensure that our customers have all the resources needed to optimise their digital distribution.
“As a leading CRS provider, D-Edge is one of the few hotel tech players to offer a comprehensive range of solutions that includes digital marketing and website creation. This strategy has proven successful for our customers with more and more hotels and chains having adopted MediaGenius, the first hospitality multi-channel platform for digital media.”
Read More: Tech in Travel: Why OTA travel marketing has gone walkabout; Amadeus and Booking.com get hitched;