October 29, 2018

Airlines call for seamless travel, but the simple journey must start at search

In this day and age, what travellers want and will increasingly demand is access to on-the-go seamless travel search and booking, that can be accessed any time of day and in any place. The Global Passenger Study (GPS) 2018, a recent study by IATA looking at preferences and behaviours of air travellers all around the world, revealed that passengers are eager for seamless travel, with fewer friction points along the way. But truly seamless travel, that eliminates unnecessary time wasters, must start before booking with ease of search.  

IATA’s GPS report is the product of feedback from over 10,000 airline customers ranging from ages 18 to over 65, with the largest concentration of respondents between 25 and 54 years of age. Though younger generations are more likely to strongly prefer self-service options and demand greater speed from airline services like check-in and baggage retrieval than older generations, all generations agree that the process from beginning to end could be smoother.  

“The GPS tells us that passengers want a seamless and secure travel experience from booking to arrival,” Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security says.  

One of the reasons that passengers prioritize simplicity is that they want to make better use of their time. A seamless journey includes features that give flyers greater control. They embrace self-service and digital platforms that are quick, convenient and can also keep them informed of their options every step of the way. According to IATA’S GPS report, 45% of air travelers would choose biometric identification as a replacement of their passport with 56% preferring to track their bag throughout their journey. 

It’s no surprise that, when it comes to booking, GPS respondents said they would like to be informed of all of the travel services available to them, rather than have to search separately.  

According to the GPS report, travellers welcome additional products or services to be purchased together with their flight tickets including: 

  • Hotel (53%)

  • Insurance (40%)

  • Transportation from the airport to final destination (32%)

  • Car rental (32%)

Technology has moved at a fast pace and more recently messaging, chat bots and voice platforms have entered the fray, bringing with them the possibility for brands to meet users and interact with them on the devices they use daily.  Travellers, especially Millennials, also show a preference for managing their travel on their smartphones. While desktop is still the primary booking platform, a study by Criteo finds that most travel services now get over a third of their bookings on mobile devices. Interestingly, that figure goes up to 80% of last-minute bookings. When time is of the essence, mobile is the platform consumers rely on most. Apps are becoming the preferred method for mobile booking with Skyscanner reporting more than 60% of its users are now on mobile.  

With platform switches come lost opportunities for conversion. Cross-device travel planning can result in travellers booking on a different site from where they began their search. Since launching its direct booking offer in November 2015, Skyscanner direct booking partners have seen a 50% increase in conversions on mobile bookings and more than 100% uplift in ancillary ticket sales.   

There is an opportunity to simplify the travel search process and retain customers through continuity of search results, remembering passenger intent as they switch from app to mobile web and desktop.     

Skyscanner saw mobile as the future of travel early on, and has developed strong tools that eliminate hurdles. They include helping travellers understand the product related to the fare, easy and convenient payments, and even getting answers to questions on-the-fly with chatbot and voice assistants. Tools like these, and other Skyscanner developments, allow consumers to make better decisions faster and offer a seamless transition from search to booking.   

Passengers are always on-the-go. We must go along with them or be left behind. If you're not mobile-first, you're last when it comes to the travel industry.