ONLINE HOTEL BOOKING TREND 1 – 2017: Trip planning websites address the inherent need of a traveller to “book everything” at one go in one place. Travellers are keen to reduce time spent on travel planning.
The consumer need
We all know how easily distracted we are when we start an online search for booking travel. The time required to pull off a really fun holiday is massive. Even the most internet and travel savvy person spends hours online before booking a flight and hotel in addition to planning activities at the destination.
What is driving change?
What has really changed to make trip planning websites more viable?
Over the last decade, travellers have become overwhelmed by choices. And the benefits of curation have become more apparent. Less is more!
Trip planning websites may not offer the choice of hotels that Booking.com offers, but it may well offer a more select list which fits in with the overall interests of that specific trip.
Connectivity between platforms and technologies allow faster integration and faster results with search. This has allowed companies to combine search results which feature multiple products from multiple vendors.
Growth in data analytics supported by improvements in artificial intelligence means that it is now possible to identify a traveller need better. Increased use of mobile offers the possibility of doing it anytime, anywhere.
Some of you may remember the clunky (as seen now) early efforts from Hotels.com and Travelocity almost a decade ago at helping traveller choose better.
Emerging customer expectations
For the modern-day traveller in a highly distracting and stressful world, speed and convenience are more critical than ever. So is the originality of the travel experience.
Trip planning websites offer inspiration to travel promising experiences more than just a trip They offer a faster, more relevant and convenient way to plan. And equally importantly, deliver the speed to save a lot of time.
Are they delivering on expectations?
So does this all add up? Do trip planning websites deliver on these needs and expectations?
Unfortunately, the answer is no – not yet anyway! Many companies have entered the space at different stages with varying approaches, but it still has not gained the traction it deserves.
Does this mean it is no longer a trend that is unlikely to survive? I believe trip planning websites still have a strong case to survive and grow.
The hunger for easy trip planning is still very strong. And convergence of technologies make it increasingly feasible. The influence of artificial intelligence technologies in personalisation and need recognition is being felt and utilised across the world.
Businesses applying this trend
Who are the key players? They range from direct to consumer trip planning portals to social booking platforms. Some of them look at business travel while others approach individual travellers. A few mix technology with personal curation while another set focus mainly on transport.
Trip planning portal TripHobo is enables users to plan trips to over 14000 cities across the world. It combines exploring attractions, creating itineraries and booking hotels, transportation and tours. Triphobo secured $3 million in Series B funding led by incoming investor Mayfield and existing investor Kalaari Capital.
Google has Google Trips, to help plan your holiday. It does that using data from Google Maps and crowdsourced contributions from other travellers
Utrip, a website that can create itineraries in 37-plus cities throughout the U.S. and Europe. It combines artificial intelligence and human experience to help travellers create their perfect trip quickly. The database is curated by local experts from each featured destination.
Inspirock provides a detailed day-by-day plan of attractions you will see at the various destinations on your personalised itinerary. Based in California, the company had an investment from Make My Trip for USD 3 million. According to Tnooz, it has seen excellent growth recently.
Sygic travel previously called Tripomatic offers a way to discover things to do on your next trip and plan a trip of your lifetime.
The Chinese trip planning website, QYER PLANNER is a smart trip planning tool. Based on millions of travel plans made by users, Planner uses accumulated data to make recommendations.
MobyTrip is an end-to-end, algorithmic trip-planning and real-time social collaboration tool. Using machine-learning algorithms, it creates personalised trip itineraries instantly.
Popular website Gogobot, now Trip.com helps travellers find the places to eat, play & stay that are timely, relevant & personal. The app uses artificial intelligence to analyse millions of signals & surface suggestions that take all the work out of the travel & discovery process. If you’re in your hometown on a rainy day, Gogobot will find that quirky indoor activity you’ve never tried.
Mygola is a crowdsourced trip planning service that allows travellers to request personalised trip planning from their range of trip planners.
Mioji is an automated trip planner that can provide optimised travel routes, automated daily itinerary and complete all bookings at one go, while meeting the need of personalistion to enhance the end-to-end travel experience.
Trip planning websites combining technology with human curation
Gojourny creates tailor-made travel plans with recommendations from top chefs, sommeliers, and local experts for a small fee.
Vayable offers a way to directly hire local guides for activities overseas.
The TripScout mobile app helps plan a local and authentic self-guided city tour. Local guides curate a list of sites for you and provide engaging audio guides on an offline map with GPS.
Your local cousin allows travellers to connect with locals for recommendations and order custom itineraries.
Make it Social offers social booking technology and enables peer to peer networking of event and travel discovery. It enables users to invite their friends and family to experience events and travel together, whilst paying individually.
Tripgrid puts everything you need for travel management into one place for quick access.
Whereforbusiness would like to be every employee’s personal booking assistant. It is an AI-powered corporate booking tool, designed to reduce both the hassle and cost of booking a trip.
Metaplanner is a smart digital calendar that allows searching, planning and booking within the calendar. Once a meeting is entered it searches and displays the best travel options. The results are bookable calendar items. It also serves as an itinerary management service, a team calendar and meeting room planner
Relovate is a technology platform that allows both travellers and content producers to manage trip saving, sharing and publishing.
AXUS Travel App offers a web-based itinerary management and engagement platform that streamlines the way travel advisors and service providers communicate with clients from the initial planning process all the way through to their destination experience.
Social and group trip planning
Wetravel helps plan trips with friends.
Let’s go there allows travellers to create and manage own group or exchange ideas through a fun, dynamic trip planner.
Travefy offers a travel planning platform with tools to collaborate on trip details, build rich itineraries, and collect shared expenses
Planchat helps travellers find ideas, recruit friends, track rsvps, split expenses, share itineraries, and group chat privately.
Pebblar allows travellers to follow the real-life process of trip planning starting from idea collation, discussion with friends then allocating a date and tracking booking details.
VacationChamp is a smart platform that allows users and groups to book an entire trip by using an augmented intelligence engine that takes product characteristics that travellers specify.
Mytripkarma offers a social travel platform that helps travellers to plan a trip with friends, access aggregated content for flights, hotels, restaurants, attractions and build an itinerary.
Tripline takes a map-based visual approach so planning is as simple as putting points on a map.
Niche tools, apps and websites
TripIt transforms your emails into a master itinerary for every trip so all your plans are in one place.
TripCreator enables users to plan and book their entire trip to Iceland in one place. It provides an instant itinerary checked for availability based on the travellers preferences.
Stride Travel is the world’s largest search and reviews site for tours & adventure trips with over 10,000 tours, cruises, and adventure experiences to every continent.
Transportation driven and multi-modal
Adioso is a great tool to book flights starting with exploring travel ideas.
Roadtrippers helps people discover the world around them in an entirely new way by streamlining discovery, planning, booking and navigation into an engaging and intuitive process. Currently available only in the US
Roadtrippers unique content covers the wonderful “off the beaten path” places to visit and our unique database contains millions of the world’s most interesting locations
Waynaut is the first European platform offering multimodal travel solutions with both innovative and traditional means of transportation.
Mozio connects customers, local companies, and global travel brands to turn getting to and from the airport – into a delightful experience.
Trend potential and takeaway
Trip planning websites are still on a rocky path. The potential is there for everyone to see. The challenge to make it work seamlessly still remains, despite the advances in technology and innovation. Finding the optimal level of human curation may be the key to delivering that optimal experience.
Hotels in the meantime will do well to absorb lessons from this trend to cater to the needs of their guests. Engaging with trip planning websites in terms of marketing and understanding their distribution arrangements will ensure that you benefit from an emerging segment.