When travel brands merge commerce and search, it makes for a great user experience.
Most of us think of online search and ecommerce as two distinct functions. And traditionally they have been.
But the lines between the two are increasingly blurring. We see this happening in retail and emerging in other verticals, including travel.
This blurring is a major transformation in our ecosystem, and brands that adapt to it early will reap big benefits.
Typically, online businesses lean either towards search or towards commerce. Search-oriented entities connect consumers with information (“here’s the data you’re looking for”) and their business models are built around advertising dollars.
Commerce companies, on the other hand, connect consumers with products (“buy this thing”), and their models are built around transaction dollars.
Billions of dollars flow from commerce companies to the search companies from whom they source traffic. Search properties act as the gateways and toll-takers to shopper attention. This is why ad budgets devoted to Google are so large; the Priceline Group alone spent more than $3.5 billion dollars on search in 2016.
That means moving away from old models (“present this product or information in response to this query”) to specific, data-driven strategies (“we think this experience would be most helpful to this user right now”).
The need for business model innovation has been emerging for a while: In 2014, a Tnooz survey of 400 travelers found that only a third (34%) felt that travel companies had nailed the basics of search and shopping.
And as shoppers crave a more seamless process with more personally relevant content, forward-thinking travel players are making big bets in data and analytics to give it to them.
The goal is clear: Travel companies that better understand customer needs and shape offerings accordingly will thrive. In fact, a 2015 American Express study revealed that 83% of Millennials would let travel brands track their digital patterns in return for a more personalized experience.
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