Business Travel iQ was recently at Travelport's e-volve OTAs Summit surrounded by online travel agencies discussing their challenges and what lies ahead for the industry.
Changing traveller behaviours and a willingness to relieve pain points mean OTAs are more sophisticated than ever with their technology and customer service offering.
However some of their issues, you'll be relieved to hear, are not too dissimilar to the ones that travel managers are facing.
We thought it was only fair that we shared what their future tactics are with you.
1. The 'big picture' is removing friction. Technology and online companies, particularly Google and start-ups, look at something bad and think 'how can that be made better?' Behind each travel pain point are several companies trying to ease the process; it will take the one with simplicity, the right brand and the right marketing at the right time to win.
2. Itinerary management apps are the 'next big thing', which either produces a partnership opportunity or has potential to create more compliance difficulties. Mobile Travel Technologies' Alison Bell reeled off Wipolo, Traxo, Trip38 and Tripchi as some of the emerging names. This could encourage plans for a centralised app, which our Expert Jeroen Hurkmans discussed in his most recent Business Travel iQ article.
3. Within said app or through other means, ensure you are serving up relevant information to the person based on preferences and location. Travellers want to feel independent but know they have something helping them along.
4. Think of personalisation as filtering choice. Having thousands of room or flight options is wonderful but also overwhelming. For the OTAs data and appropriate filtering will help travellers make the best decision for them, but used effectively in online booking tools it could help businesses too.
5. Content has to be shown properly to be effective. If you are bundling more value into your hotel rate then does your traveller know that they are getting more for their money with that rate compared to another?
6. Be prepared to integrate and partner more when new types of suppliers start to affect your programme so you can be reactive to change.
7. Google's Scott Friesen said mobile is the internet now. Corporate travel is still largely booked on desktops or laptops, but bear in mind that in the future the internet and mobile is much the same thing.