Embracing Transcendence: The Bold Path for OTAs and Digital Travel Players

In the dynamic realm of online travel agencies (OTAs) and digital travel players, the mantra of “transcendence” has become a guiding principle.

It encompasses a transformative mindset that propels these entities to surpass pre-established limits, accelerate change, and challenge the status quo. As the travel industry rebounds, driven by a surge in pent-up wanderlust, there is a kaleidoscope of opportunities awaiting those willing to adopt a bolder approach to their business and commercial strategies. This article explores the need for OTAs and digital travel players to embrace boldness and adaptability in their pursuit of unlocking the potential of the evolving travel landscape.

Going Beyond Pre-Established Limits: The resurgence of travel post-pandemic has witnessed a wave of eager travelers ready to splurge and embark on memorable journeys. However, research from Expedia Group reveals that traveler expectations are now higher than ever. This signals the importance for OTAs and digital travel players to adapt their strategies, invest in technology, and even reinvent their ways of working. Merely offering the best deals is no longer sufficient to address challenges such as low conversion rates, high servicing and marketing costs, unforeseen trends, and customer support friction. To seize the opportunities presented by the evolving travel industry, it is essential to transcend conventional boundaries.

Lessons in Boldness and Accelerated Change: The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of remote and hybrid working models, challenging the traditional office-based approach. While remote work was previously seen as a privilege or exception, the pandemic demonstrated its effectiveness on a global scale. Today, remote and hybrid work models have become commonplace, challenging the status quo and reshaping traditional notions of work. This lesson in boldness and accelerated change should serve as inspiration for OTAs and digital travel players to embrace innovative strategies and methodologies.

Challenging the Status Quo: Having the best content and deals has long been the rule for digital travel players. However, with evolving market challenges, this rule alone falls short. Successful companies in the travel industry invest substantial sums in advertising and servicing, yet struggle with conversion rates below 3%. To drive innovation and overcome these hurdles, digital travel players must challenge the status quo. By embracing change, exploring new trends, and integrating innovative technologies, these players can foster growth and deliver enhanced traveler experiences.

The Six Pillars of Growth: For OTAs and digital travel players to flourish over the next two decades, adherence to six key pillars will be crucial:

  1. Search: Perfecting search technology requires personalization and contextualization, catering to individual traveler preferences. Speed and accuracy must align with delivering personalized and relevant results, creating a superior search experience.
  2. New Distribution Capability (NDC): The utilization of NDC technology offers enhanced travel retailing capabilities. Collaborative efforts across the travel ecosystem will unlock new opportunities, leading to a more personalized traveler experience.
  3. Automation and Digitization: To optimize resources and revenue generation, digital travel players should explore automation and digitization. Streamlining processes such as on-trip traveler assistance allows for more focused revenue-generating activities.
  4. Payments: The intersection of fintech and travel presents lucrative opportunities. Airlines and hotels are exploring services like buy now, pay later or foreign exchange to enhance the payment experience. In the B2B space, virtual card solutions facilitate efficient B2B payments.
  5. Data & Analytics: In the digital landscape, vast amounts of data are available. OTAs and digital travel players must harness this data to analyze traveler behavior and swiftly adapt their strategies to meet evolving needs.
  6. Innovation: Immersive advertising, digital fitting rooms, and social booking represent the frontier of increasing productivity and revenues in the travel industry. Early investment in these innovative concepts paves the way for future success.

To thrive in the ever-changing travel industry, OTAs and digital travel players must transcend pre-established limits, challenge the status quo, and embrace a bold approach. By focusing on the pillars of search, NDC, automation, payments, data & analytics, and innovation, these players can seize the kaleidoscope of opportunities available. As traveler expectations continue to rise, adapting strategies, investing in technology, and embracing change are essential for unlocking the full potential of the evolving travel landscape.

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