Consumers are increasingly relying upon apps and websites to suggest where they should go on holiday. But finding the right holiday online can be both frustrating and time-consuming.

New concepts, however, are being developed to help consumers deal with an ever-expanding range of options and replicate the helpful high street travel agent.

On the LuckyTrip app the consumer enters their budget and the software does the rest. It provides ‘somewhere to go’, ‘somewhere to stay’ and ‘something to make you happy’ (i.e. an attraction). By searching the likes of booking.com and Skyscanner, it is doing nothing that the consumer cannot, but it dramatically simplifies and shortens the research and decision-making process. Skyscanner itself provides a similar feature with its ‘everywhere’ option, which provides the consumer with flight inspiration at the click of a button.

Recent reductions in the cost of air travel means longer haul destinations are more affordable and the consumer is now both more willing and more able to try new destinations. However, to be able to do this they need more advice and information.

The most innovative web and app-based travel agents help bridge the gap between these dynamics, and account for the following factors:

Exhaustive personalisation
While prospective travellers want to feel that all of the options have been weighed up, they also want to feel they are being served in a bespoke manner. It is important that the operator manages to turn the output of an often highly complex algorithm into an (at least apparently) customised holiday recommendation. Intelligent consumer data collection should be utilised to point people in the direction of the most relevant trip options.

New experiences
Modern, tech-savvy holidaymakers, with their exposure to the vast array of options, are keen to explore new places and ideas. Operators must ensure that they are data mining the most up-to-date and relevant sources of information, in order that consumers are ultimately provided with options that excite them and sate their desire for new, unique and Instagrammable experiences.

Holidays on the go
Consumers now expect to be able to research and book a holiday wherever they are. Convenience is key and operators should make use of all relevant routes to market in order to ensure that advice and personalisation is available to consumers at all times.

The trick lies in appropriating the best aspects of a traditional high street travel agency whilst innovating to meet contemporary consumer demands.

Whilst we are wary of stargazing, it is surely not long before algorithms and AI develop to the extent that a virtual travel agent greets you on screen and interacts with you in much the same way that a real human once would have.

Patrick Cox