How do you book your travel?
Travel and tourism is an industry that is constantly changing, due to the technologies we have available.
Today we can use technology at every stage of travel, we use apps to store our boarding passes, for directions in an unknown city and even to turn your smartphone into your hotel room key.
However I have always booked travel in the same way, via an online travel agent, until now that is, I recently booked a holiday entirely through Whatsapp. It was quick, it was easy and relatively stress free.
So would I search for a holiday in the “conventional way” again?
Well that depends on your view of conventional, 20 years ago that may have been visiting your local travel agent, in the years since, online has been the go to for travel bookings with sites like Expedia launching in 2001 or Kayak in 2004.
Travel sites have improved over the past two decades, making it easier to search for accommodation & flights as well as excursions, car hire etc. However most stick to the tried and tested formula, they produce results from multiple aggregators and then it’s down to the traveller to piece together their itinerary.
That usually consisted of selecting a pre-determined destination, picking a flight, adding extras, and then paying for it all there and then.
When I heard of a new option, where everything would be taken out of my hands, I was intrigued.
I was told through a stream of Whatsapp messages, I simply had to state where we wanted to go, how long for, how many people were traveling and what activities we wanted to do, and everything else would be taken care of, it would be a process that would require minimal effort, it would save me time, money and stress, so I hopped on board.
According to Sabre, Britons spend an average of 3.5 hours searching for the perfect flight, add to that accommodation, and extras and the time racks up to over 10 hours of searching.
The whole Whatsapp booking process took less than half of that time, payment was split between everyone traveling and we were provided a host of information on our accommodation, transfers and flights. It was one of the most straightforward trips I’ve ever booked.
Throughout the process I refrained from doing any additional research into our accommodation, I wanted to see how this experience was from beginning to end, other members of our party did however receive the information and immediately looked to see if the itinerary could be found cheaper elsewhere, others looked for reviews for our accommodation, or better alternatives., but the overall experience was so good, our group were happy to pay a little more for the time and hassle we had saved.
So is using Whatsapp to book holidays the future?
According to Statista 47% of users between the ages of 16 – 35 would be more than happy to book via mobile apps, and with over 1.5 Billion active users on Whatsapp, and 80% of those between the ages of 18 – 34, it could be the next travel booking trend.
Using Whatsapp is seen as less intrusive to millennials than a phone call, but more appealing than an email, Whatsapp communication allows the consumer to participate in the conversation at the pace they choose, and it’s personal, a direct conversation between the brand and the consumer.
Paul English the co-founder of Kayak launched a dedicated travel app called Lola in 2015 with the idea to make trip planning personally tailored to each user.
Personalisation has been a key focus for many travel brands in 2018, with Google reporting, 57% of travellers feel that brands should tailor their information, based on personal preferences or past behaviours. The use of Whatsapp felt personal, it’s an app at the centre of many people’s lives, and more than one billion people use it to communicate every day. It gives you direct communication to your customers.
It remains to be seen if Whatsapp or other instant messaging tools like Facebook Messenger will become commonplace for bookings within the Travel market, will consumers be willing to accept Whatsapp as a personal communication app and a booking tool? What is certain is instant messaging is becoming a bigger and bigger asset in ecommerce, earlier this year Whatsapp introduced a Whatsapp Business app with the aim to make it easier for companies to connect with customers, and according to Facebook 61% of people in the UK have instant messaged a business in the past three months & 53% of people are more likely to shop with a business they can message directly.
Here at Adido almost half of the team have used instant messaging when booking or paying for something, so even if you do not use instant messaging for ecommerce there is certainly a benefit to using the platform to serve your consumers.
Here are some thoughts of the team here.
- If you aim to use Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger for your business you need to make sure you can manage the activity. You need to be available when a consumer contacts you, Instant Messenger popularity thrives on its speed of communication, if you are unable able to reply this will have a negative impact on the customer experience, make sure you can manage it.
- Whatsapp Business allows you to create a business profile, get messaging statistics and enable messaging tools such as quick replies, replies that provide fast answers to frequently asked questions, greeting messages that introduce customers to your business, and away messages that let them know you're busy.
- Whatsapp can be used on Desktop, not just on mobile, so you don’t have to reply via a mobile all day every day.
- List your contactable hours, state clearly when instant messenger is available.
- Appeal to your target market, you need to ensure you are tailoring your offerings & tone of voice to best suit your audience, 85% of internet users aged from 18 to 34 use instant messenger platforms, this drops to 68% for users aged 35 to 75.