High-stake online travel agency competition used to merely revolve around how many tens of thousands of hotels, or homes and apartments each company added to its ranks during the previous quarter, and those milestones are still very much in play.
But lately a new and somewhat more esoteric flashpoint has emerged, namely the connected trip. Enter Booking Holdings and Expedia into this fray.
Travel industry executives have referred to the concept by various names, including the connected trip, the perfect trip, even frictionless travel, and the idea has been bandied about for years.
Five years ago, then-Concur CEO Steve Singh dreamed of the perfect trip, where an app would float flight-rebooking recommendations when a flight was delayed, the hotel check-in process could begin when exiting the plane, and further down the jetway a car rental option appears on your phone. The company even had the Perfect Trip Fund to nurture startups to help in the mission.
But with advances in mobile, artificial intelligence, and a consequent stampede toward personalized services for travelers, the connected trip is attracting real investment and is gaining momentum. As Lorraine Sileo, Phocuswright’s Senior Vice President of Research, put it at the company’s conference in Hollywood Beach, Florida, “The connected trip is what we are all striving for.”
However, in these early moments of the trend, it’s still unclear to what degree the buzz will turn into tangible bottom line benefits.
Glenn Fogel, CEO of Booking Holdings, doesn’t need an invitation to expound on the topic, which he has been promoting for a couple of years. On the sidelines of the conference, Fogel said it makes sense that Expedia is now talking about the connected trip, as are Airbnb, TripAdvisor, Trip.com, and others.
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