Self-service - could it become the main channel for booking travel?
Self-service technology is on the brink of moving from being one of many channels for transacting business to becoming a dominant one in many markets. This is according to a new report commissioned by Amadeus.
The key findings of the study include:
Self-service within the travel industry is still only at the beginning of the adoption curve.
In many industries, including travel and aviation, this rise in adoption will make self-service a dominant channel for buying goods and services.
Self-service is not simply about saving money - many companies are discovering that offering travellers more control and choice over their travel plans is helping to increase revenue and improve customer satisfaction ratings.
Self-service is increasing consumer loyalty by enabling companies to better understand their customers’ needs.
The drive towards self-service is an international trend, but the adoption pattern varies greatly due to cultural, geographical and generational influences.
There is an increased blurring of the borders between business and leisure travel as travellers demand the same level of functionality from the technology they use, whether booking a holiday or planning a business trip.
Simplicity of use is the key to the adoption of self-service technology, but travellers increasingly want to carry out more complex transactions.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that the ‘one-size-fits-all’ policy does not work in the self-service environment and firms are beginning to market on almost a one-to-one basis.
“Companies implementing self-service technology find that the factors which make relationships with customers successful in the person-assisted environment can be extended online with great success. Understanding this concept is key to the future adoption of self-service technology and will be key for business development,” said Ian Wheeler, Vice President of Marketing for Amadeus.
International growth in self-service travel technology is being driven by a wide variety of factors, the strongest being the advent of safe online payment systems and in developing markets, systems that do not require credit cards, such as PayPal, which is helping to drive adoption in India. The roll-out of high-speed Internet access is also helping drive use of self-service technology as travellers are no longer frustrated by sites taking too long to load over a slow connection.
The report contends that the self-service option will become as prevalent in the travel industry as the use of ATMs in the banking sector. Self-service options are becoming an accepted and integrated part of normal working life, no more remarkable than executives using a PC to write an e-mail rather than dictating a note to their assistants to type up.
The study also explains that self-service is all about choice. It is not just a matter of helping companies cut costs, whilst this is obviously one benefit, many travel agencies and airlines have found that providing their clients with a self-service alternative helps boost not just their revenue, but customer service ratings and loyalty also.
As the internet increases in popularity and online payment methods become more secure, self-service is growing worldwide and we are seeing rapid adoption across many regions - including countries like China and Brazil where both travel and the use of self-service are growing side by side. Only one in ten airline tickets are currently booked online - this proportion is set to rise dramatically.
“Amadeus commissioned this report because we wanted to get an industry-wide view of the future of self-service within the travel and aviation sectors,” continues Wheeler.
“Our solutions development is fuelled by ongoing dialogue with our customers, on what is vital for their business - self-service is on the top of everyone’s agenda. Leading industry players will decide on their IT partner of choice, based on a keen ability to understand the evolution of self-service and to deliver smart technology, in a timely way, to capitalise on the opportunity it represents.”