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Last-Minute Bookings in the Bag

Agents with advanced dynamic packaging tools at their fingertips can make the most of customers’ ‘let’s just book it’ moments, says Chris Brown, Group Product Manager, Traveltek Group Ltd.

The last-minute booking trend is on the rise, despite the travel industry’s best efforts to incentivise early bookers.

In fact, a staggering three million Brits are more than happy to book a holiday on the actual day of departure, according to the latest research commissioned by the UK’s air holiday financial protection scheme, ATOL. Londoners are most likely to leave it to the last minute – as are men – the survey of 2,045 British adults aged 18-plus conducted last month (May 16 and 17) by ComRes revealed. What’s more, one in 10 (8%) are willing to leave booking to the last few days before departure.

It’s news that will get the heart rates of some travel agents across the country racing, particularly as the busy summer holiday season rapidly approaches. The thought of frantic searches for flights, accommodation and all the extras – and then packaging them together in time for departure – is enough to induce a state of panic.

But it doesn’t need to be that way. Travel agencies that have the right tools in place can not only cope with the last-minute booking trend, they can cash in on it.

Imagine being able to cherry pick every component of a customised travel itinerary – flights, hotels, cruise, car rental, transfers, attractions, tours, and other ancillaries – and sell them as one single package?

Traveltek’s dynamic packaging solutions allow agents and tour operators to do just that, across their own booking systems and their B2B and B2C websites too. And the industry tells us we are good at it, with Traveltek named ‘World’s Leading Dynamic Packaging Solutions Provider’ at the World Travel Awards for four years running – in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Bookers can choose from 300-plus leading suppliers through the Traveltek API and even package their own products and services with third-party stock using the iTour solution.

The user-friendly web-booking solutions are multi-lingual, multi-currency, multi-channel and multi-market, providing total flexibility for modern travel companies that want to be able to adapt to consumer needs, including their increasing preference for last-minute bookings

The significant surge in bookings made by mobile devices, predominantly smartphones, should be taken into account too. The majority of mobile traffic and bookings is driven by travellers looking to get away on a whim and the convenience of online and apps is driving this change.

Travel companies with mobile apps saw 60% of their bookings take place on mobile devices in Q4 2017, up from 41% during the same period in 2016, while online travel agents now see almost half (45%) of all bookings take place on a smartphone or tablet, according to the latest research by commerce marketing firm Criteo.

To capitalise on these mobile device-driven ‘let’s just book it’ moments, a B2C dynamic packaging tool is a must, as is a mobile-friendly website.

Traveltek has been building travel websites for more than 20 years and has transformed offline agents with small information-based sites into e-commerce giants during that time. Its mobile-ready websites make it easier than ever before for customers to book an unplanned trip. It might start with a search or an idea, but if agents have the right tech in place, it can be translated to a sale in no time at all.

In a world where travellers are booking on the spur of the moment and expect to be able to package their own itinerary quickly and easily, the trade can steal a march on the competition by investing in technology to make this possible. With the right tools in place, cold sweats over last-minute bookings will be a thing of the past.