robot driving car AI
Adam Hancox

The future of the ground transportation industry

November 14, 2017

The trends and issues that influence companies today are often fast, evolving and unpredictable. To stay ahead of competitors, businesses are constantly having to learn and adapt to meet the ever-changing traveler expectations, emerging technologies and disruptive forces. Two of the key trends we are witnessing are the move towards ‘Mobility as a Service’ and the impact of personalisation, driven by Artificial Intelligence.

Mobility within the ground transportation industry

The Future of Mobility consists of technology enabled, door-to-door, multi-modal travel, encompassing pre-trip, in-trip and post-trip experiences. This enables customer convenience, time and cost savings, whilst improving the customer journey experience. In both B2C and B2B environments, customers are demanding intuitive services; many players are investing significantly in order to deliver the seamless proposition and user experience. Companies that embrace a B2B4C model can rapidly transform from a commodity supplier to a strategic partner, drastically increasing their value proposition.

Based on the changing customer needs and the ways in which providers interact with customers, there has been a shift to integrated mobility solutions and Mobility as a Service (MaaS), with players looking to leverage opportunities in an integrated, seamless and transparent service. Services involve not only car-rental and car sharing schemes, but also a breadth of offerings that include shared lease plans, P2P rentals, on-demand shuttles, ride-hailing, autonomous technology pilots, and to find and pay for parking. Examples of this include BMW’s ReachNow, one app that manages a range of mobility options; Hertz supplying cars to Uber and Lyft; Enterprise’s piloted program with Uber, and Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz Vans unit’s joint venture with Via, a US-based on-demand shared ride mobility app.

 


As travel behaviours continue to evolve towards an on-demand, shared mobility, and multimodal system, Travelport has demonstrated its commitment to this user experience. Through the investment in Next Gen Trip Services, world class content, and new forms of content, such as transfers, we combine this all together using AI and personalization to ensure the travelers get the right offer, at the right time, through the right channel.
 

The role of personalization and changing traveler expectations

Changing technologies and pervasive consumer behaviours have fundamentally altered how people socialise, communicate and do business. Within the car-rental industry, mobility is becoming far more connected, asset-light, and integrated, as customer expectations shift from car ownership to tech-enabled mobility. According to Skift, digital travel sales are expected to reach $189.6bn in 2017, of which 40% is stated to be purchased on mobile. Within the car-rental industry alone, mobile booking sales, via provider apps and mobile sites was valued at US$6.45bn in 2017.

Advances in technology have opened-up new opportunities for car-rental brands to support, engage and empower their customers via sophisticated apps and mobile services. Personalization is also becoming increasingly important as an enabler for business travel. 73% of consumers surveyed by Digital Trends said they prefer to do business with sites who use personal information who make their experience more relevant. Profiles should dip into mobile and social data, transaction history to identify favorite rental car providers, affinity or loyalty programs, and spending patterns for example.

In keeping with the statement that ‘data is the new oil’, the big winners in this trend will be those who make the most effective use of customer data, however there is some key legislation next year to be mindful of.  With the impending General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) due to come in to effect in May 2018, for any company transacting with EU Citizens, the industry must ensure that it’s adequately prepared for the new data processing rules, whilst some operators may need to completely overhaul their data management processes.  With this in mind, the management and access to this profile information becomes equally as important as to how it is used to drive a better customer experience.
 

How is Travelport keeping pace?

Travelport has recently extended their partnership with Mobacar, an Artificial Intelligence technology provider. This partnership is leveraging new technologies to drive conversions, increase customer retention and loyalty, through the development of mobile first APIs for rapid content connectivity to a Global eCommerce platform, and advanced personalization via Artificial Intelligence, to ensure that customers see the most relevant content.

Travelport’s goal is to provide true ‘travel intelligence’ to the industry, which applies to both the providers we work with to distribute their content globally, and for the customers who consume content across our travel commerce platform via mobile or API. 

For providers, we are launching AI driven insights on their content performance across our global channels.  We are also utilising our partnership with Mobacar to provide a next generation content management system with API connectivity and a natural language processing capability, to provide eCommerce, mobile-ready content for Travelport-connected car-rental companies.

Mike Webster, CEO & Founder of Mobacar, said: “With Travelport we are pioneering new technology to easily expand the breath and quality of content available to travel retailers by expanding connectivity to global mobility providers. We use our expertise in AI and machine learning to optimize the search and travel choice for Travelport’s customers.”

For our customers we are using AI to provide relevant content optimised based on an understanding of customer needs to drive improved commercial performance and customer experience.  The evidence of this success can be seen in how Mobacar has successfully rolled out AI across other players in Travel as the first company in the industry to embed Artificial Intelligence into mobility.

Working with companies such as Gulf Air and Flight Centre, their AI has driven increased revenues of up to 28%, measured against traditional approaches. This uplift has been driven by increased conversions and increased upsell to higher value products, due to a presentation of better product mix to the customer. Artificial Intelligence displays a personalized sort order, taking in a wide set of parameters to provide the best options for the customer, tailored specific to their needs. Under the covers, deep learning is applied to understand the customer’s needs for each individual trip, based on all available customer data points matched against availability and price in real time. The result means that all customers effectively receive a unique product mix, focusing their effort on products that fit their need.

 

                          Heatmap demonstrating the breadth of Travelport car rental content on a global scale.

For companies who wish to stay ahead of the competition and provide the most relevant content to their customers through personalization, Travelport offer the capabilities to enhance your offering through a single integration. For more information, please contact us today.