Comment: Redefining the online travel industry

Hugo Kimber, executive chairman of the Malvern Group – parent to brands Super Break and LateRooms.com – says consumer behaviour trends are driving change in the online travel industry

In today’s current climate, consumers are the driving force behind the way industries develop and stay ahead of the curve.

It’s key that companies seek to understand the needs and behaviours of consumers, by investing through staff, technology or research, which allow businesses to adapt with the ever-evolving landscape.

Being acutely aware of macro-environmental conditions and trends outside of the primary sector is incredibly important when it comes to ensuring you remain ahead within your own market.

The evolution in customer demand is causing brands to look beyond the content being shared with customers, and instead focus on the wider experiences.

This is driving the industry to a more integrated approach when it comes to users’ booking experiences, and in future this will also become more horizontal. The horizontal booking experience will reflect the change in customer’s demands, who want the ability to be able to gain and share travel advice and experience.

Customers can read between six to 12 reviews before making their final purchase and this approach to booking allows travellers to create a full trip itinerary, choosing the aspects they specifically want, and refining their full experience to reflect exactly what they’re searching for.

Personalisation within retail and the e-commerce industry are driving sales internationally and leading the way for other industries.

It’s not just online where we’re seeing changes in the way customers are demanding their information.

We’re seeing a growing number of consumers calling for a higher level of support offline as well.

People value the service a travel agent or call centre can offer; having the element of human interaction provides bookers with a sense of reassurance, whilst also allowing them to draw on a degree of expertise.

Although we see that consumers do much of the research and planning themselves, the large scale of choice sees them seeking assistance when it comes to finalising travel details.

At the Malvern Group we work closely with our industry partners to innovate and deliver in response to travel trends and changes in the wider market.

The strength of our relationships allows us to garner further expertise, and examine how these partnerships can work to develop the industry further and allow us to stay one step ahead of growing consumer demands.

Innovation, however, is about stepping beyond what consumers have experienced and providing them with something they couldn’t imagine.

Great ideas are only valuable if you take the right ideas through to market with strong commercials and with good timing.