Jan Hatzius, a chief economist at Goldman Sachs, reports that 2015 is going be a strong year in respect to the stability of the global economy. This is good news for the travel industry, whom thrive in a healthier economic environment. The European Travel Commission forecasts that global travel sales are expected to reach $830 billion by 2017. Online and mobile sales are a key factor contributing to that growth. The World Travel market indicated that mobile bookings are expected to total 35 percent of all sales by 2018. That represents a significant number for online travel agencies employing mobile applications and websites. Although the market is heavily saturated with a plethora of big players and niche market fillers there are opportunities for entities to create unique applications to gain market share.
If an Online Travel Agency (OTA) application similar to Expedia and Priceline is the ultimate goal, it will be important to integrate with one of the main Global Distribution System's (GDS) Application Programming Interface (API). An API is a set of programming languages and coding standards for the structure of web based applications and software. API's are a software-to-software integration that allows developers to use established protocols for an application's feature base instead of starting from scratch. Ultimately an API is a list of commands that the application or program sends to another to get a desired outcome or response for application functions. These protocols, routines, and tools give developers the elemental building blocks to develop a fully functioning application with trusted code and processes. Most global distribution systems offer their API's for a licensing or subscription fee.
A global distribution system is a computerized network market place used as a single access point for travel service providers like airlines, hotels, car rentals, railways, and cruise ships to publish inventory, rates, and descriptions. GDS's are the common back-end technology that online travel agencies use to facilitate and execute searches for the end users looking to search, compare, and book travel services. The GDS is a host program that enables automated transactions between service providers, third-party travel agents, and the end users. The most popular GDS's to integrate your travel application with includes Sabre, Amadeus, Galileo, and Worldspan.
Although creating an application with unique features is important there are some industry standards that need to be taken into account to ensure the success of your application. The fluidity of an application across multiple channels and operating systems is important. Ensuring that users can pick up and continue a search across multiple channels, switching from their personal computers, to mobile phones, to tablets. Also, allowing the users to be able to create advanced search functions to query a set of results to their exact preferences is paramount. Getting accurate search results and giving users a navigable portal to compare listings is also basic. Additionally, an intuitive user interface and strong user experience will give your application a crisp, clean, easy-to-use graphical User Interface which is important for overall navigability.
OTA apps specialize in the planning and booking of travel services. Most popular OTA applications and websites are integrated with one of the major global distribution systems, which offer similar rates to all channels. To penetrate the market, one should offer an application that is effective and unique in a way that builds a customer base and loyalty through intimacy. An application can employ the technological advances in Customer Relationship management (CRM), loyalty programs, and business intelligence to have a competitive edge. A trend for 2015 is to offer the consumer a personalized and intimate experience. Leveraging business intelligence and implementing data aggregation plus central repository data warehousing will gather and store important information. This data will be beneficial when it is mined and used for predictive analysis on what a customer needs and wants. These reporting findings can then be tied into to the central customer relationship management platform. Using extremely targeted information to developing a direct, social, and email campaigns and offering loyalty promotions will create devoted consumers.
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