The Complexities of Booking Online: East2 Rethinks Travel Distribution

July 2018

McKinsey & Company have identified the key digital trends affecting the travel industry with the aim of helping companies prepare for the future as reliance on digital channels continues to grow. Of particular interest to airlines and East2 is the following point that highlights the complex and fragmented nature of the online booking process:

‘In travel, there are as many as 100 pre-booking online touchpoints. No wonder it is so hard to win customers’ attention. When researching travel online, the average customer shifts more than 50 times across channels—desktops, tablets, and mobile devices—chalking up roughly 100 pre-booking touchpoints. That adds up to way too many chances of losing potential customers if different information is given in different channels, customers are forced to reenter the same data time and again, and the sales agent has no record of the information given online. In addition, the majority of touchpoints are not “owned” by the travel company. Our research showed airlines owned fewer than 20 percent of all preflight digital touchpoints. That means companies have to be smart in knowing which of the various search engines, review sites, blogs, and so on are relevant to their potential customers in order to focus advertising budgets effectively.’

Airlines – under threat from search engines and other third-party travel sites who ‘own’ the vast majority of pre-flight touchpoints – will continue to feel the pressure as they compete heavily on price to get noticed within environment’s they don’t control, and that have acquisition costs attached to booking procurement. Likewise for travellers, the overwhelming amount of available content more often than not lacks relevance, and is time-consuming to navigate.

Stephen Bartlett-Bragg, co-founder of East 2 comments, ‘We can all easily relate to the challenges of researching and booking travel online. It seems like an almost impossible task for airlines to focus on adding value over being price-driven when travellers are navigating through so many channels and intermediaries. This confirms that there is an opportunity to re-evaluate the current complex distribution model to see how it can be remodelled to more clearly benefit airlines and their travellers.’

East2’s solution suite for airlines takes a streamlined approach to travel distribution. Prioritising the traveller’s needs and intent puts them at the centre of the booking experience so that airlines can deliver appropriate and targeted content, with a focus on adding value as travellers move through the supply chain. In providing a more bespoke and dynamic user experience, airlines will also be able to capitalise on greater ancillary market share as they take ownership of content delivery based on a strategy that ensures successful outcomes for themselves and their travellers. 

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