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How the travel industry has survived the digital shift


Andrea Lubeck

4 July 2017 07:00

Paul Arseneault

How to cope with digital ? The travel industry has had to ask the question, there are more than a decade. And there are facets which can inspire the insurance industry to deal with it.

«The question of the shift to digital is inevitable «, said Paul Arsenault, a professor of marketing and holder of the Transat Chair in tourism, ESG UQAM during the Day of the damage insurance. The sales of online travel represent a market of $ 10.1 billion (G$) in Canada and 180,6 G$ in the United States, according to statistics ofeMarketer. In addition, the number of people who book their travel exclusively online is on the rise in three european countries and approaching 50 %, while those who book on-line and off-line — either in person or on the phone — are in decline, dropping to less than 25 % for 2016.

Faced with this dilemma, the traditional distribution channels have been slow to respond, noted Mr. Arsenault. «Players like Expedia and Orbitz have short-circuited the field of travel. Although they did not in the middle before you get there, they have taken the monopoly such as online travel agencies. The inaction of the industry represents billions of dollars. «

He adds that it is necessary that the players are so-called traditional insurance take the leadeurship now. Because otherwise, someone else will. «The travel industry has had to pedal very hard to make up for the ground lost during more than a decade. «

Hoteliers believed that the customer loyalty would ensure that they would not purchase of online travel agencies, tells Mr. Arseneault. They are allowed to offer a room for less advantageous to those who do reserved not directly at them.

«The fidelity is not associated with the brand, but in the service offering. The customer who is being offered a less good house does not say that the next time, he will pass by the site direct from the hotel. It will see a hotel where the quality of the rooms provided to customers who buy from an online agency is better, » said Mr. Arsenault.

The specialization to stay relevant

If the travel agencies are no longer the primary channel to consumers for the purchase of travel, from 61% in 2003 to 32% of the market today, they remain relevant because they are specialized. «The travel agencies leisure and business are still there because they are specialized in niche products, sharp in which they are relevant,» says Mr. Arsenault. In the United States, the number of licenses of agency of travel has decreased by half since the advent of the purchase of travel online.

Not only travel agencies have refined their product offerings, but some have also changed the appearance of the offices to either have decorations themed to look more like an art gallery, or to sell articles useful for travellers. Moreover, the agencies in the group Ready-to-integrate virtual reality to give a glimpse to the clients on the trip that they are planning.

«Now, you need to offer an experience for customers, to create places in which they will be more comfortable to make the purchase. Basically, you need to get out of the paradigm of the sale, » concluded Mr. Arsenault.

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