The travel industry has worked for decades to put the customer first; unfortunately, the end result has often been unrealistic and unconnected traveler interaction and booking processes that frequently require customers to self-assemble itineraries from multiple sources.
A customer interaction on an airline website, for example, often must be followed by similar attempts to engage with hotel, car rental or related sites.
To solve this problem, consolidated websites were created to provide customers with a single source to book multiple travel modes. But the resulting increase in customer convenience was counterbalanced by a loss of customer intimacy and personalized merchandising opportunities.
As a result, travelers, frequently presented with conflicting incentives, dissimilar methods of interaction and competing business models, were largely left to fend for themselves in a confusing, time consuming and often undifferentiated travel distribution landscape.
New technologies and business models now offer the potential for online differentiation and the provision of value-added services and features for which travelers will pay a premium.
To capitalize on these developments, enhance the consumer travel experience and create opportunities for improved financial performance, members of the travel community must learn to collaborate – and even consider teaming with rivals – to generate a single view of the customer.