Does adopting a collaboration business model hold the answer to lasting success for travel businesses? For a long time, travel companies have realized that in order to build loyalty they need to provide customers with a great travel experience – from booking, to take off, and right through to the return trip home.
Companies know travelers are seeking a connected and seamless experience – one that allows the traveler to stop searching through endless options and find the great experiences they are looking for. Some travel companies are approaching this by looking to control the entire customer journey through consolidation and adopting a platform business model.
A growing number of companies are taking an alternative approach – looking to strategic collaborations, even with former competitors, to meet customers’ ever-growing expectations.
Two companies that have embraced the collaboration business model were present at the Voyager HQ Travel Distribution Summit in May 2019 and shared their thoughts.
Using A Collaboration Business Model To Provide Seamless Customer Experiences
Lonely Planet, the travel guide company, has long specialized in unearthing great destinations and itineraries to assist travelers in the planning process but selling guides is no longer enough to build a sustainable business.
Providing the content, inspiration, and community, Lonely Planet helps travelers decide where to go. From there, through strategic partnerships, Lonely Planet helps make the travel dream a reality. Currently, customers can search and book flights through partner Skyscanner, book hotels through Booking.com, arrange travel insurance through World Nomads, and book tours through a number of partners worldwide.
Lonely Planet CEO Luis Cabrera said at the Voyager Summit, “We want to be able to touch every part of the journey, but we don’t want to own it.” He added, “At Lonely Planet, we won’t be launching our own OTA. We try to partner with the right individuals and companies.”
Adopting a collaboration business model provides customers with a curated, all-in-one experience without Lonely Planet having to invest in every area that customers are interested in. Instead, the business can focus on what it is good at – producing inspiring and informative travel content.
Collaborating With Partners To Enhance Traveler Experiences
Foursquare is another company actively participating in strategic partnerships using a collaboration business model. Offering both consumer apps and location data services for companies, the business is in a unique position. Using its technology, Foursquare is able to both provide consumers with ways to interact with destinations through its City Guide and Swarm apps, and then it uses the content and data collected from consumer users to help other companies enrich travel experiences for customers.
Uber uses Foursquare technology to pull locations into its much-used app, while Airbnb uses Foursquare’s user-generated photos to enhance its Experiences offerings. Foursquare’s CEO, also at the Voyager Summit, said “Whether it’s Airbnb or hotels, everyone’s going to be competing to enrich the experience.” Forming strategic partnerships through collaborative business models are one way to get there.
Collaboration Business Models Behind The Scenes – Supplier Payment Partners
Many companies are also adopting collaboration business models and seeking partnerships to gain expertise in critical business areas such as supplier payments.
With today’s rapidly changing technology and the growing need to pay a diverse supplier base across the world, it can be an intimidating task for a company to own, and excel at, payments in-house. While supplier payments may happen largely behind the scenes unbeknown to customers, if something does go awry, it can have a lasting detrimental impact on the customer experience.
By collaborating with a payments technology leader like WEX, companies can tap into the expertise, reaping the rewards of reduced exposure to fraud, improved efficiency, and even cost savings.
For travel companies, partnering with a well-established payments provider who takes a collaborative approach to business, will give assurance that the technology will stay current and innovative. WEX is continuously investing in its payment technology and collaborates with customers to co-create solutions to satisfy business needs today and for the future.
For more see: The Power Of Platforms.
Choosing The Right Travel Partner
Building a collaboration business model and forming strategic partnerships can be a critical strategy for companies who either, do not have the resources to own the whole customer journey, or for those who choose to focus resources on a particular strength or niche.
Choosing the right partners, though, is critical. Foursquare’s Glueck advises companies to choose allies based on aligned interests. Lonely Planet’s Cabrera says that choosing the right sized partner is important, as is setting clear boundaries. With the right match, trusted partners can provide each partner with benefits unavailable to them individually.