5 Advantages of Using Online Travel Services
Even in 2014, fewer than one in five travelers turned to conventional travel agents for travel information, while four in five turned to the Internet. Of course, traditional travel agents still retain some specialized advantages, but the benefits and limitations of online travel services merit closer examination. Because it’s one thing to just use an online travel service for price and convenience; it’s something else to pick the service with the right advantages for your business needs.
Advantage #1: Broadest vendor selection
No online travel service offers every option a user could ask for. Even the largest services may lack this airline or that hotel brand for various reasons. Nevertheless, if easy access to near-instant comparisons of a broad selection of travel providers is one of the main benefits of online travel services over regular travel agents, then it follows that services with the broadest provider selection should have an inherent advantage.
Keep in mind, though, that there’s more to a service experience than the number of tracked providers. A service can distinguish itself by how it compares these services and provides filtering tools to users. Having the widest provider selection in the world won’t matter if no one can put that data into easy use. So, remember to weigh vendor selection against the service interface and usability.
Advantage #2: Freedom from pressure
Everyone understands that there’s a certain amount of pressure that may come from face-to-face purchase experiences, often known as “the hard sell.” For those who dislike such tactics – and really, does anyone enjoy it? – online transactions are a godsend. Users have anonymity and the knowledge that they can cancel the experience with a single click.
But pressure can come in several forms, some more subtle than others. Even in an online travel service or app, destination ads can apply pressure. Bundle discount offers (“buy these items together and save!”) can add pressure. Pop-ups from chatbots asking if you need help? Obvious pressure. Of course, every travel service needs to weigh the pros and cons of pressing a sale against waiting for a desired outcome. But if the customer experience and satisfaction are paramount, then service providers should strive to make the most help and value available without pressure. Business travelers will find such services less stressful and more rewarding. And isn’t that the goal of all business travel?
Advantage #3: Access to impartial reviews
According to PhoCusWright data from 2013, 80% of travelers read at least six to 12 reviews before booking travel, and 53% won’t complete a booking until after reading reviews. 3 While it’s true that travel agents have long been a trusted source when selecting destinations, a travel agent remains only one review. That simply won’t fly in an age when we’re accustomed to seeing dozens or hundreds of voices weighing in collectively on our decision process.
At the same time, we’re all aware that reviews can be bought. Competitors can seek to undermine one another with false reviews. The quality, attention, and integrity of the travel service provider can be critical in determining how much viewers can trust the reviews on any given service.
Advantage #4: Extreme convenience
By 2016, according to Think With Google, 53% of business travelers had booked travel through their smartphones. 4 With upward-trending screen sizes and service speeds, the number is no doubt higher going into 2020, but Google statistics also reveal that “88% of travelers with smartphones would switch to another [travel] site or app if one doesn’t satisfy their needs.”
Online travel sites and their respective services can’t simply run through checkbox items like “rate comparisons” and “online booking.” The experience should be built from the ground up for optimal convenience and efficiency. That includes back-end tools for tracking, reporting, and other features business travelers will want. Extreme convenience means everything from destination research to post- trip expense summary submission – without all of the clutter and ads found in leisure travel services. Also consider that extreme convenience can extend to the back end of business travel. Functionality such as the automation of corporate policy compliance can be a huge time-saver for expense management staff. Likewise, administrators and executives who might normally have to spend hours reviewing and approving workers’ travel plans can use a platform such as Deem Work Fource to establish customizable approval flows for different user groups and worker hierarchy levels.
Advantage #5: Novel value-add services
A benefit of online travel services is that they have the nimbleness and reach to present users with newer and more varied services, often in ways that no legacy travel agent could hope to match. Some of the most exciting developments now happening in business travel services revolve around ground travel. Deem has taken a determined lead in this area with its Deem Ground Work service.
Deem Ground Work, which integrates with Deem Work Fource, Sabre Red App, and all other major global distribution system (GDS) platforms, gives businesses an easy way to consolidate the services of thousands of ground service providers, see their preferred supplier rates, select from vehicles ranging from taxis and ride shares through chauffeured black cars, and schedule to have them waiting as soon as travelers emerge from the airport rather than make travelers stand in a queue. Certainly, travel agents have arranged for such things for years, but services like Deem Ground Work put all of those options and functionality in users’ hands to give them levels of control and precision that were never before possible.