Travelport’s Bret Kidd forecasts new distribution options to the travel agency and corporate channels among 2016 trends.
Travelport recaps 2015 and looks at 2016 industry trends
One of the biggest travel industry trends we witnessed during 2015 was the explosive growth of virtual payments. Traditionally, when consumers buy travel from a travel agency, the travel agent is the merchant of record. There are a number of drawbacks to this model, including fraud, default risks, and the manual processing and reconciliation of payments.
Many in the travel industry are converting to Virtual Account Numbers, or VANs, as an alternative to the older, outmoded forms of payment. VANs are an automatically generated credit card number that travel intermediaries can use to make supplier payments. A single-use and unique number is used for each new booking or payment transaction, making it a highly safe and secure way to pay or to be paid. And each individual VAN can be automatically reconciled back to the individual element of the customer itinerary for which it has been paid, freeing up significant time and resources for travel agencies.
Looking forward to 2016, we’ll continue to see additional adoption and growth of VANs.
We’ll also see further maturation of airline merchandising in 2016, as more and more airlines recognize the enhanced revenue opportunities offered by new distribution options that allow for a full and rich content retailing experience to the travel agency and corporate channels.
The content, devices through which it is sold, and the airline needs regarding content have all evolved. Airlines want to more effectively control how their flights and ancillaries are visually presented and described on travel agency screens. Airlines want this content aligned to the airline’s value proposition and displayed more in line with the airline’s own website. The key is making all this new airline content available is an intuitive, comprehensive merchandising platform that allows travel agencies to offer their customers more travel choices, convert more sales opportunities, and sell more airline products and services more often.
Mobile technology is a fast growing segment of the travel industry, and we should see growth in new, comprehensive mobile travel products that enable airlines and travel companies to deliver sophisticated mobile services to their increasingly mobile centric customers. Customers want to manage their entire trips via mobile, from travel research and booking to planning and preparation, to in-airport, in-flight, and at destination services.
Finally, there is tremendous opportunity ahead for the fast growing hotel and car rental distribution segment of the travel industry. There are approximately 27 million hotel rooms to be filled every night across the world, and about one out of every four rooms go unsold. For independent and non-chain hotels, which make up approximately 80-percent of all hotel properties, there are significant opportunities in new meta-search technology that allow travel agencies across the world to see, compare, and book these hotels, adding important incremental value when it comes to increasing occupancy rates.