Given a lack of consumer loyalty, what can OTAs and Meta-Search Engines do to please their audience more and gain their allegiance as well as increase market share? Our latest traveler survey sheds some light.
Online Travel Agents such as Expedia, Priceline, and Orbitz, and Meta-Search Engines such as Kayak, TripAdvisor and Hipmunk are often the first place travelers go to research a trip and search for flights and hotels. These websites provide great inspiration, appealing photos, and useful flight and hotel search capabilities. In fact, they have been so successful as the first stop in the planning process, they have become very competitive when it comes to providing the largest number of results, the best prices, and the most visually attractive websites. But the problem is that travelers are not necessarily loyal to them - travelers often visit more than one OTA/Meta-Search site each trip they plan and don't necessarily book through the same one each time.
In a recent survey we did with over 2,000 travelers, while Expedia and Kayak were often respondents' first stop for trip planning and flight searching (together receiving 54% of the vote as the first place visited), they often were not the last before booking. Respondents said they had visited a variety of sites in the past 12 months while planning and searching for flights:
- 60% had visited Expedia
- 45% visited Kayak
- 41% visited Travelocity
- 39% visited Orbitz,
- 27% visited Priceline
- 21% visited Trip Advisor
- 18% visited Cheapflights
- 13% visited CheapOAir
- 5% visited SkyScanner
- 5% visited Hipmunk
One answer: Expand their offering past the planning phase of a trip – into the day of travel and the trip itself. Mobile devices have provided a great opportunity for OTAs and Meta-Search Engines to provide more useful information and booking capabilities throughout the trip as a customer service win as well as a user engage and brand awareness win. Unfortunately travel companies are not successfully doing this yet – our results showed that only 36% of the travelers surveyed regularly use an OTA mobile app during their trip. Respondents said there are key mobile and in-trip services they would find particularly useful:
- 87% would like flight status updates sent to their phone
- 65% would like to automatically be rebooked if their flight is cancelled or severely delayed
- 46% would like other relevant parties (rental car agency, limo service, hotel, etc.) alerted of itinerary changes or delays
- 33% would like to see airport and airline amenities on their phones
Practical information and alerts are key to user engagement and commitment – 87% of survey respondents said they’d be likely to return to the provider they purchased their ticket from on the day of travel if these services were offered. These results provide a great tip for OTAs and Meta-Search Engines – don’t just focus on your core competencies related to the planning phase of a trip for differentiation, consider the broader lifecycle of trip and how to help travelers during the most stressful moments of travel – they’ll appreciate it immensely and become a great deal more loyal.
For more stats from our traveler survey, check out the OTA Meta-Search Engine Survey Infographic and download FlightView's free market brief for online travel providers here: