September 3, 2018
It’s predicted that Amazon, the $900+ billion tech giant that is revolutionising customer experience1, may disrupt the online travel industry next. So what can online travel agents (OTAs) learn from the retail giant to ensure they too do not get left behind?
1. Invest in technology
Ongoing technological innovation is part of Amazon’s DNA and has played a fundamental role in helping Amazon to get and stay ahead of its competitors. As early as 1998, for example, Amazon invented “item-to-item collaborative filtering” (the foundations of its recommendations feature) to help personalise and customise the browsing experience for its customers. Moreover, Amazon is always thinking about how to make it easier for customers to access and use their site – be that through mobile, tablet, or its latest creation, the Amazon Echo. Amazon’s thirst for technological innovation is certainly something which OTAs can learn from. By harnessing advanced analytics to better understand their customers and using best-fit technologies to better capture their customers, OTAs too can better position themselves as the vanguard of travel services.
2. Offer customers a wealth of choice
Amazon was named after the world’s largest river because its founder, Jeff Bezos, wanted to communicate to the world that his company offered the greatest selection (of books, at the time). Today, Amazon strives to offer its customers a limitless section of products – to ‘redecorate the shopfront’ for every customer, every time they shop.
For online travel agents, offering a broad selection of travel options to customers is also fundamental to winning customer loyalty in a highly competitive landscape. Indeed, as our research with Smith+Co, global leaders in customer experience reveals, the more listings OTAs have, the more satisfied their customers are – in turn translating into stronger customer advocacy and better business performance.
3. Frictionless payment experiences
Amazon is renowned for its seamless “one click” payments technology, giving consumers from all over the world the flexibility to make transactions with the touch of a button in any preferred currency. The technology even allows Amazon Echo owners to make purchases with a single voice command. By taking the pain out of the payment process, and reducing the possibility of shopping-cart abandonment, some estimate that Amazon’s sophisticated payments technology is worth as much as $2.4bn to the online giant. Clearly, if OTAs are to keep up with the payment services bench-mark which Amazon has set, they need invest in their payments infrastructure and back-office operations.
Amazon’s business strategy is centred around continuous ‘experience’ improvements, an understanding of what their customers want, and the ability to offer its customers more choice than any other player in the market. In a world dominated by disruptors like Amazon, to remain competitive, OTAs must ensure they too focus on delivering an unmatched customer experience. An experience that extends further than simply a user-friendly website design, to encompasses the likes of payment processes and security of transactions.