Booking Made Simple; Should Marketing Be Next?

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On-Line Travel Booking VS A Travel Agent

You’ve seen all the statistics about how many websites consumers visit before booking a trip — 5, 10, 15 — Expedia, Kayak, TripAdvisor, Booking.com, etc. One result has been a resurgence in the use of travel agents in recent years, including among millennials.

So it’s no surprise that startups are emerging that aim to take the complication out of trip planning by encouraging buyers to use “natural” language in typing or voice — or, to contact a human travel agent with a simple text.

One startup still in test phase is called HelloGbye. It allows travelers to type into their computer or speak to their phone saying something like “I would like to go to Miami next Thursday for three days and stay in a four-star hotel. My wife will be joining me on that Saturday. We will both be returning to New York a week later.” Type or say “submit” or the equivalent and a few seconds later you’ll receive the flights and hotels, purportedly at the lowest available prices. All that’s necessary is to click on the flight and hotel of choice — and done.

Startups Making Booking Travel Much Simpler

Of course, the site has to have the information on your spouse (or any other registered travelers), your preferred airline and hotel brand. And there is a monthly subscription fee which is applied to your bookings and easily absorbed by booking just a couple of trips a year as a result of loyalty points redeemable for cash. Otherwise, it’s that simple.

And to the surprise of many, another startup in beta called Lola Travel was founded by Paul English, cofounder of Kayak, the metasearch engine. When travelers want to book a trip, they just send a text. It can be as vague as “Hey, my family is thinking about going to Europe next summer. “That’s enough because on the other end is a human travel agent who knows the customer’s general preferences – and has the experience and data to help make decisions about the trip.

“It’s the future of planning and booking travel online,” asserts Greg Apple, head of marketing for HelloGbye, of the way his site works. That’s a heady claim, but as Apple says, speaking of his and other companies with similar goals: “We all believe in the same thing – reducing the pain and agony of planning travel.”

Message to marketers: it might be time to not only push your product but the ease of doing business with you.

Should be as simple as hello and goodbye.

This Article Previously Posted by Harvey Chipkin on mediapost.com.