Unlocking the purchasing power of group travelers

Group travel is as popular as ever, with friends and families looking for new ways to connect, opting to spend memorable time together on holidays. A recent report revealed that nearly half of surveyed travelers believe it’s important to go on a multigenerational family trip, including both immediate and extended family members. What’s more, 54% of families who travel are planning a family vacation this year.

Catering to the needs of group travelers is therefore paramount and industry household names such as hotels.com, Expedia, and most recently Airbnb have all responded by introducing group travel planning features. But travel companies of all sizes can’t afford to ignore this trend and miss out on opportunities for increased customer satisfaction and business growth.

Elevating the group decision-making process

As evidenced by World Travel Market data, it’s friends and family who have the biggest influence on our travel decisions. However, most travel websites are designed with an individual in mind, overlooking the importance of incorporating recommendations and opinions from others into the booking process.

What’s more, when a user visits a travel site, eight out of ten times they represent a group of people that will be traveling together. And even if people end up going on a solo trip, the decision process is a group process as it typically involves seeking recommendations and/or validation from those whose opinions we value most, our friends and family.

In the physical world, customers effortlessly access this insight when shopping together with their loved ones. The travel booking journey is more nuanced, however, particularly when more than 148 million travel bookings are made online annually. While people can still seek advice and discuss plans through social media platforms and instant messaging apps like WhatsApp, this process is lengthy and troublesome. Importantly, when these conversations are happening away from the travel website itself, it also means that vendors lose all the valuable insights into customer behavior, group dynamics, and buying intent. This is precisely why travel sites need to facilitate real-time social interactions for users, allowing group members to organize trips exclusively on the site, together and with ease.

Many forward-thinking travel vendors are achieving this by deploying software solutions such as Joyned, providing a cross-website, secure space on the site for groups to discuss and book trips together. At the same time, this enables travel websites to own their shoppers’ natural social engagements, and global companies such as Amadeus, RIU Hotels, and OYO Vacation Homes are already harnessing this power, reporting a boost in sales and revenue.

AI-powered personalization

To attract more customers to engage in these discussions online, travel websites must tailor their offerings to travelers’ interests, needs, and preferences. Generic recommendations aren’t sufficient anymore, and this is where AI excels in crafting an intuitive and highly personalized customer buying journey.

There’s a real need for the travel sector to enhance personalization and leveraging AI is key to achieving this. Joyned’s AI-based social revenue platform implemented on a vendor’s website can instantly recommend the right options based on users' search preferences. By analyzing the conversations they’re having we can understand the dynamics of the group and customize the recommendations accordingly, helping travel websites to create offers and add-ons that increase customer satisfaction as well as revenue.

In the race to ensure travel websites stay one step ahead of travelers’ needs and competitors’ offerings, enhancing group trip planning needs to be one of the top priorities. Travel vendors need to streamline their booking processes to foster collaboration among users which is proven to boost sales and revenue simultaneously – a win-win scenario for travelers and vendors alike.

The article Unlocking the purchasing power of group travelers first appeared in TravelDailyNews International.

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