Our business provides our clients with an online booking engine for B2B users to access accommodation and other travel products worldwide, at wholesale rates in a single booking platform or via API connection.
The above description almost sounds old fashioned at this stage… So, what’s next for the online booking engine (OBE)?
In my humble opinion, guests are expecting a much deeper level of personalization. The future of the OBE is all about delivering exactly what the guest needs and wants during the booking process no matter what device they use or how they use it.
There are some very basic elements that all booking engines require. The capability to deliver results based on direct input from the booker like city, dates of stay, room type and so on – in reality, of course, there is a lot more to be done.
A lot can now be accomplished by using data, not only in delivering precisely what the guest needs and wants – but also by enhancing their stay. Inside the booking flow, complementary products and services can be offered based on other preferences like the type of room the guest likes, whether they prefer a high floor or low floor, whether they regularly request a late check-out and so on.
Now, can you imagine if the booking process could also anticipate and recommend things that the guest doesn’t yet realize they want? This could include restaurant recommendations within walking distance of the hotel based on the guest’s social profile, or in-room music tailored to the guest’s public likes. The opportunities are endless, and interestingly the technology is available.
The introduction of machine learning and its cousin, artificial intelligence, will not only help the booking experience but also amplify the client’s relationship with the travel company or hotel. When it comes to loyalty, making the booking experience easy and then utilizing the data effectively can build greater loyalty to an individual hotel or a travel company brand than any formalized loyalty program.
The future looks very interesting and full of opportunities for the OBE, and most importantly; it will remain for quite some time as an integral part of any online distribution strategy.