The Ver­ti­cal Po­ten­tial Of Air­port Trans­fers

Car hire has long been the go-to ground trans­port so­lu­tion for trav­ellers. But with ride-hail­ing ser­vices like Uber and Lyft be­com­ing ubiq­ui­tous, it’s time we started re­think­ing the ways in which trav­ellers are get­ting to and from air­ports, and the ways i

Tourism Tattler - - EDITORIAL - By Carey Finn. About the au­thor: Carey Finn is a free­lance writer for Hep­star - a cut­ting edge travel-tech com­pany that aims to op­ti­mise rev­enue earned from travel in­sur­ance through the use of ad­vanced e-mer­chan­dis­ing tech­nol­ogy. Should you be in­ter­ested

Ev­ery year, mil­lions of trav­ellers make their way to and from air­ports – relying heav­ily on bus, rail and chauf­feured car op­tions to do so. In the Europe and Asia-Pa­cific re­gions alone, the num­ber of air­line pas­sen­gers us­ing bus or rail trans­fers rises to nearly one bil­lion a year – that's a lot of peo­ple. It's a lot of po­ten­tial rev­enue too. The key ques­tion is: when does the trav­eller start and stop be­ing your cus­tomer?

What goes up, must come down… and in the case of travel, it doesn't nec­es­sar­ily stop there. We know that in the cor­po­rate travel sphere alone, ground trans­port has been es­ti­mated to rep­re­sent a full seven per­cent of spend. It's mostly still sold sep­a­rately from the rest of the travel ar­range­ments, with pas­sen­gers re­quired to book di­rectly with the ground trans­port provider.

There is some logic to this – of­fer­ing ground trans­port op­tions in the flight book­ing flow may im­pact con­ver­sion of the air ticket it­self. Ren­tal cars are of­ten of­fered af­ter the sale, in the form of email prompts and white la­bels.

But there is room for im­prove­ment. We need to see in­no­va­tion both in the care­ful in­te­gra­tion of ground trans­port op­tions in the book­ing flow (tim­ing is ev­ery­thing) and around the prod­uct; per­son­al­is­ing offers based on cus­tomer re­quire­ments would be a good start.

A hand­ful of for­ward-think­ing travel ser­vice providers have al­ready started to in­te­grate black car and other ground trans­port op­tions into their of­fer­ings: Uber, as we all know, have teamed up with United Air­lines, Star­wood, the Hil­ton and Tripad­vi­sor to make jour­neys eas­ier for trav­ellers; while GroundLink and GroundS­cope have part­nered with Amadeus, Sabre and sev­eral other key forces in the in­dus­try.

These are just a few of the com­pa­nies that are work­ing to make the travel ex­pe­ri­ence more in­clu­sive and seam­less for cus­tomers (Cab­force, Hoppa and Moovit are oth­ers on the rapidly grow­ing list) – and this is just the be­gin­ning of the in­dus­try shake-up. Go­ing for­ward, we ex­pect to see many more strate­gic links to fill the gap in the ver­ti­cals on of­fer. And it's not go­ing to be limited to chauf­feured cars or shut­tles, ei­ther. Re­cently, dis­tribu­ joined forces with CarTrawler and Amadeus to con­nect bus op­er­a­tors and travel re­tail­ers around the globe via an APIbased so­lu­tion, and they shared some thoughts on the part­ner­ship. “The ground trans­port seg­ment is chang­ing rapidly,” noted Pierre Becher, Dis­tribu­sion's Head of Mar­ket­ing. “Con­nect­ing bus op­er­a­tors and travel re­tail­ers on a global scale re­sult in great ben­e­fits for all who love to travel.”

Becher ex­plained that do­ing so in­creases both the trans­parency and ac­ces­si­bil­ity of bus travel. “It's be­com­ing as easy as book­ing a flight since bus and air­port trans­fer rides sud­denly show up in hun­dreds of online book­ing por­tals or can be booked in thou­sands of lo­cal travel shops. This makes the en­tire travel ex­pe­ri­ence more con­ve­nient.”

Con­ve­nience – a key con­sid­er­a­tion for cus­tomers

For the travel mer­chant, it's about more than that though; it's about own­ing the en­tire cus­tomer travel ex­pe­ri­ence. In­te­grat­ing ground trans­port op­tions into the flight book­ing path means of­fer­ing cus­tomers a one-stop shop for travel ar­range­ments, from their home to their Honolulu ho­tel, from point A to point B (or even points C and D). This trans­lates to more sat­is­fied trav­ellers, and that leads to in­creased rev­enue.

‘Part­ner­ship' looks set to be the word of the year in the air­line in­dus­try – it's not just in the area of ground trans­port that it's hav­ing a dis­rup­tive im­pact. We are wit­ness­ing in­no­va­tive col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween air­lines and OTAs and non-tra­di­tional ac­com­mo­da­tion providers like Airbnb, and there is much, much more to come. It's all about team­ing up with com­pa­nies that are ex­perts in their re­spec­tive fields to en­sure the best ser­vice pos­si­ble for the travel cus­tomer. Watch this space for more on that, and other food for thought.

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