Chief Product & Technology Officer
Tom Kershaw on how Travelport+ made a complex trip simple
Everyone knows travel can be complex. But visiting the 7 Wonders of the World in seven days? Some would say that’s an impossible itinerary to create, even for the most skilled agent. But not with our modern retailing platform, Travelport+.
The 7 Wonders Challenge was a true test of the power of our technology. If you don’t already know what it’s about, here’s the deal. We asked an agency partner, Travelbag, to plan a route to get our hero Adventureman from the Great Wall of China to Chichén Itzá in Mexico — plus every Wonder in between — in less than one week. All powered by Travelport+.
And now that it’s all over (and we’ve got a world record under our belt), everyone’s asking the same thing: how did we do it? Here’s a few technology secrets from behind the scenes.
SOPHISTICATED SEARCH, ON SMARTPOINT CLOUD
When you’re planning a trip like this you’re faced with no one single airline that can take you to all the destinations on the itinerary. And because every minute counts, you have to find the fastest, simplest, and most reliable route.
Travelbag planned this trip using Smartpoint Cloud, the modern retailing interface that connects agents to Travelport+. On it, agents could see all the flight options in one single interface, saving a ton of time and energy searching and comparing.
Plus, it’s integrated search functionality took all the various combinations, put them together, and scored them — including low cost carriers, NDC content, and private fares. For the planning stage, this combination of choice and convenient search really was critical.
Flight search on Travelport+
ALL THE DETAILS, IN ONE HANDY PLACE
Keeping customers up to date is tricky for agents, even on straightforward trips. It’s just the nature of travel — things change and people do unexpected things. But when you’re doing something as big as setting a world record, you need everything to run like clockwork. AND there’s a lot to contend with: time zone differences, flight changes, or just having no WiFi.
Trip Quote on Travelport+
We needed crystal clear, real-time communication throughout the entire journey. That’s where Trip Quote on Travelport+ came in. Using this automated, online tool, Travelbag could send any updates to Adventureman easily, keeping him informed no matter what.
Trip Quote consolidated his flight and hotel details in one designated, easily accessible place. And that’s super valuable when you’re sprinting from one Wonder to the next, or when you’re really down to the wire getting through a busy airport.
UNEXPECTED CHANGES? NO PROBLEM
On a massive trip like the 7 Wonders Challenge, something on the journey was bound to go awry. A combination of heavy traffic in Rome and Adventureman going to the wrong terminal caused him to miss a crucial connecting flight along the way. To stop this ruining our world-record attempt, Travelbag needed to find a solution quick snap.
Luckily, Travelport+ has an easy exchange capability, so the agent could find and book a new flight quickly, without a bunch of manual entries. Obviously in this case the agency had to react under extraordinary time-pressure, but things like this happen every day working in travel.
When something unexpected changes, customers need agent’s help to get things resolved immediately. Having the right technology — that enables a rapid response and supports you in the crunch times — is what makes or breaks a really good customer experience.
Easy flight exchanges on Travelport+
STAYING ONE STEP AHEAD
The challenge for Travelbag was not only to react to changes outside their control, but also to constantly be looking for changes that could save time here and there. After all, even ten minutes difference could make or break this record-setting attempt. The agency had to stay one step ahead the whole time, and Travelport+ helped them do it.
Using Productivity Automator, a tool on Travelport+, they could see if new flights or a better option became available, pre-trip and during the trip too. Travelbag could set up various rules and automations to flag when a better flight became available somewhere on the itinerary.
Just like how Google Maps will proactively tell you if it finds a faster way to your destination, Productivity Automator anticipates the best options when there’s millions of different alternatives and things change continuously. And this meant Travelbag didn’t have to keep manually searching for ways to optimize time, and they could detect changes automatically.
Productivity Automator on Travelport+
EVERYTHING ON MOBILE
Travel is fast-paced, especially if you’re running late. Adventureman was on the go all the time, he couldn’t stop and fire up a computer to check an itinerary or make changes. Having everything to hand was critical, and so Trip Manager played a huge role on this trip.
It puts all of the power of our modern tools onto mobile, allowing the customer to make changes with a few taps. Adventureman could pick seats with extra leg-room. Or add bags when he bought too many souvenirs. Which came in pretty handy, when he picked up a giant stuffed llama for his daughter at Machu Picchu.
Accessibility and convenience on all devices is something that modern travelers expect now. Sure, the 7 Wonders Challenge is an extreme example, and customers won’t always be so tight on time. But broadly speaking, you can’t overstate the power of having everything you need in the palm of your hand.
Trip Manager on Travelport+
HOTEL REQUESTS, HANDLED
After seven days of nonstop, round-the-clock, round-the-world travel, Adventureman really needed (and deserved) a good night’s sleep. He got just 12 hours shut-eye in seven days, so you can imagine how tired he was by the time he reached the final stop in Mexico. We wanted him to finish off the trip by staying somewhere really special. And he had a few specific asks (a pool, a room with a view, and a great restaurant). After all, it’s not every day you set a world record.
So having all of that detail on hotels options was essential during booking. With hotel search in Smartpoint Cloud, the agency could access detailed property information, like room attributes, maps, photographs, and comparative rates, to choose the perfect property.
And it’s not just Adventureman. More and more, modern travelers want agencies to help them with hotel as well as flight tickets. Those who do it well, get the rewards.
Hotel Search on Travelport+
CONSCIOUS OPTIONS CONSIDERED
Sustainability is one of Travelport’s driving philosophies, so getting that right for 7 Wonders was critical from the beginning. We know that travelers today want to see sustainable options on their trips.
Our recent research on what consumers want found that 84% will pay more for environmentally friendly travel options. So Travelport+ is arming modern agency retailers to deal with these changing demands. On Smartpoint Cloud, you can get integrated flight emissions data in every search.
So, whenever you look for a flight, you see not only the price and duration, you also see the carbon emissions. We could take this into account for Adventureman’s trip, and so too can customers/agents when making choices or building itineraries.
Environmental search on Travelport+
A RECORD–SETTING PLATFORM
I’m beyond proud that Travelport+ powered this challenge. This was truly one of the biggest asks I’ve ever seen. Just look at the numbers: four continents, nine countries, 13 flights, and 29 ground transport trips to cover 22,856 miles in 6 days, 16 hours and 14 minutes. It’s staggering.
Nothing exemplifies modern travel retailing more than a record-setting itinerary like this. Because modern travel is all about rising to the challenge, making things easier for everyone.
This challenge proved that epic adventures — even really, really complex ones — can be made possible with the right tools by your side. And Travelbag had just that, with Travelport+.
Customers need agent’s help to get things resolved immediately. Having the right technology is what makes or breaks a really good customer experience.