When comparing OTA and Airlines, they sell a similar product. Both sell flights, both sell packages (in most cases). So why is it that OTA dominate in online search?
OTA’s have an advantage – they are not limited by a single airline’s schedule or a single hotel partner. They have the ability to service any destination that any partner airline supports. They’re a one stop shop vs a boutique.
When using an airline’s web site vs an OTA there is a big difference in the experience/maturity. Although airlines have product range limitations, the experience is not the same (on-page and off-page). There is a lot of scope to learn from OTA in their maturity model and how they interact with consumers.
The top OTAs have worked, re-worked and optimised their workflows to understand and maximise their customer’s activity, understand the customer’s motivations and to influence behaviour.
- Big data collection, understanding and segmenting consumer activity into meaningful information.
- Abandoned basket emails with promotions targeting a repeat visit, (using AI to know whether this is someone looking for a deal or not.)
- Destination optimised email marketing. Proving inspirational content at the moment just before you may have even thought about it.
- Recommended destinations, being a trusted source of information
- Personalised deals, a reason to check-back for the “just for me” deal
- Long-tail optimised content, attracting first time customers searching for terms.
- Dedicated customer support 24/7, providing consumer confidence.
Digital Maturity is an interesting subject, many understand the need to enhance their digital offering, but systems and business change inhibit companies from being able to implement even the simplest changes.
Its not simple. Digital maturity often requires business transformation. Changes in services to support new features and changes to processes, procedures and workflows. Having 3rd party transformation consultants on hand to provide an expert view, offering direction and guidance is essential to navigate through the complex maze of challenges to deliver success.
Most airlines today are doing only the most basic e-commerce services, for them to really maximise their potentially they should look outwards, and mirror OTA to enhance their own digital maturity.