The Next Generation Booking / Reservation Engine – A Dream Concept
This is a fantasy post, if this turns out reality in future, then praise the almighty!
Lets talk Online Travel Agencies (OTA) today. Who is leading the market share? Yes, I heard you saying – Expedia! They are. Lets take Expedia and discuss.
Look at below image to know how Expedia was in 1996 (then, it was owned by Microsoft, notice the logo). This was the time when Expedia website had the line “Best viewed in Internet Explorer 3.0″, yes you red it right – IE version 3.0. In 1996, Expedia was just a plain content / link provider website. There is no facility to book online, no deals section, no advertisement rather.
Then, the booking giant implemented the facility of booking air, hotel online. Slowly, the line of businesses diversified to car, cruise, holidays et al. Customers were asked for their basic trip input and multiple options were presented in return.
Then, advanced level of information were asked as input – are your dates flexible, do you want to search hotels in 10 kms in diameter, how many connecting flights you need, are you willing to upgrade your hotel stay etc. Below is how Expedia looks in 2012 – multiple product choices, multiple booking input fields, multiple choices to select, multiple discounts and deals to think & claim, multiple user profiles, multiple payment options and multiple multiples. This is needed and its good. This is current. This is were we all are.
Now, lets look at the future (imagination) of online travel agencies. Wouldn’t it be great if the system does all the thinking & execution work for you? Wouldn’t it be great to look at a less cluttered screen with a real customer engaging experience? Look at the screen below. Lets name the OTA as Travopia. Their home page is designed like Google Search. Customers would just have to login to their account, enter their travel request in a free form text field and click on “Magic Search”. Travopia would take care of the rest.
Travopia knows the customer who has signed in. Travopia also knows the customers buying pattern (by analysing booking history), customers wish-list, current location, upcoming trips, known languages, personal information (per month allocated travel expense, parents, wife, kids, their name and age too and their likes and dislikes too!), customers social profiles (likes, dislikes, groups the customer have joined, analysing comments written), reward points usage pattern, discount / promotion codes available to customer, list of credit and debit cards the customer owns and their respective card balance amounts, which card of the customer has discount attached, which all devices (iPhone, iPad, desktop) the customer has and which channel has maximum discount, nearest airport / railway / bus station / landmark to customer etc. Now, Travopia knows almost everything about the customer.
Customer enters his/her travel wish in the textbox below and clicks on “Magic Search”,
“I want to travel from Bangalore to London, with my wife and 2 kids”
Travopia uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) technique to parse the customer’s input, analyse it by applying all known information/data, apply Artificial Intelligence rules and algorithms, and gives the “Best 10 Travopia Recommended” results. Customer just have to choose one product among the ten, then Travopia confirms the booking by automatically entering the customer & family data (pax name, age etc) and auto fill the best possible card details. So, effectively, here the customer does two clicks – Magic Search button to search, Confirm Product button to pick one of the best 10 product. And its done. The genie has granted your wish!
Again, this is a fantasy post, if this turns out reality in future, then praise the almighty!
Author: Karthick Prabu