Digitization of tourism: who did not have time, he was late
The average Russian traveler still gives tour operators, closing their eyes to the progress of digitalization, hope for several years of prosperity. According to Travelport’s global survey, 51% of holidaymakers still prefer to buy tours from companies specializing in this type of service, regardless of the convenience of their digital platform. However, the global trend of digitalization of the travel industry indicates a fast and global change in this market. Says Regional Director ECOMMPAY Moscow Andrei Moryakov.
What does a traveler want?
In Europe, the services of tour operators, making visits to the physical offices of companies, use no more than a third of travelers. The rest are planning a trip on their own using online services. In Russia, the market is developing in line with global trends, so a similar situation will not take long. Online sales will grow, and in two planes – self-compiling a tour with the help of buying tickets and hotels on the Internet separately, as well as buying already “collected” trips from tour operators online. Electronic sales will replace the offline agencies, some of which will be closed, and the other will be reoriented to the digital environment.
According to the information of the Booking.com site, a third of tourists around the world prefer artificial intelligence to plan a trip for them, taking into account their previous searches, payment methods and amounts, and other preferences. Half of the respondents do not attach importance to the one who discusses the trip with them – a chat bot or a living person, if the wishes are fully taken into account. Motivation to make a reservation also increases if the options proposed by artificial intelligence correspond to the wishes of the traveler, as stated by half of the respondents.
Hotels are also interested in offering digital services to potential customers as soon as possible, starting with the stage of choosing a room and ending with the payment for accommodation on the website or through a special application. A number of such technologies are being tested. One of them – HiltonHonors – allows users to book hotel services using the app and adapt their stay on vacation to fit their desires. The hotel business uses this information to automatically develop an individual plan for each guest on subsequent visits.
What is left to the players of the tourism market to attract customers, and so spoiled by the digital environment? Judging by the well-known statistics, customer loyalty strongly contributes to customer loyalty. According to NAFI, the majority of users who searched for travel services from mobile devices use another device for booking: air tickets – 51%, hotels – 41%, railway tickets – 24%. The user’s path looks like this: the idea of going on a journey overtakes a potential tourist “on the run” when there is only a smartphone at hand. Surface surfing on the Internet provides possible travel options, but to book and pay for the tour, you need a more relaxed atmosphere, a credit card at hand and the opportunity to consult with possible fellow travelers. Therefore, booking is completed at home using a PC. In this case, it is important for the user that all the found options do not have to be searched again in the browser and re-log in on the hotel and airfare search sites. A company that has provided a “seamless” transition from device to device — a priori wins the competition for the client from its competitors.
The trend of digitalization of travel services is forcing market players to adapt to new realities. So, the rule of mobilefirst suggests when developing booking services to orient not on the version for desktops and tablets, but on applications for smartphones. Already, NAFI statistics for the past year indicate that there has been a significant increase in requests from mobile devices for travelers. So, carpooling services were searched from smartphones by 62% more often than in 2016, tours – by 65% more often, railway and air tickets – by almost 50% more often. Total share of requests from mobile devices increased to 40%. About half of the users searching from a mobile phone or tablet make a reservation from this device. To use this trend, it is necessary to provide the user with the convenience of not only searching, but also paying for services from a smartphone.
About the adaptability of sites in this context, it is no longer talking – companies have learned the rule, which states that the site should be equally reflected on all types of devices.