Flight comparison site Skyscanner has analysed and identified the top trends that are predicted to dominate the industry next year.
A detailed study looks at how will airlines need to adapt with increasing passenger numbers and what opportunities the rise will bring to the industry.
The publication comes against a backdrop of passenger numbers set to double over the next 20 years, predicted to reach 8.2 billion by 2037, according to Iata.
Key trends identified for 2019 include:
• The pace of change is being driven by changing consumer technology habits, with a greater number of consumers around the world showing a growing preference for mobile platforms.
• New alternative payment methods emerging to make transactions more seamless and instantaneous to accommodate digitally reliant and mobile-first travellers.
• How brands will continue to enhance engagement and retention, not just revenue.
The report highlights progress in Iata New Distribution Capability (NDC) take up by carriers and Skyscanner’s involvement as the first global search site to join the new NDC Exchange.
This allows API connectivity between airlines and travel sellers. and facilitates shopping, booking, and servicing workflows including the cross-selling of ancillary services among airlines.
Airlines including British Airways, Iberia, Finnair and Scoot are seeing the benefits of NDC Direct Booking on Skyscanner, capitalising on the access of more than 80 million monthly website visitors, according to the study.
Skyscanner delivered revenue growth in its direct booking programme of about 600% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2018.
Airlines are converting browsing to booking with an average 20% conversion uplift – 50% in mobile conversions – in addition to a doubling in ancillary revenue.
“Ultimately, products and services that are packaged well, presented in the right context and offered at the right time, are more likely to add value to the traveller – and consequently airlines capable of achieving this are more likely to benefit,” the report said.
Senior commercial director Hugh Aitken said: “We want to bring airline products on Skyscanner’s site as close to the direct experience as possible, with carriers controlling their products and brand while benefiting from our traffic, and audience, across a range of devices.”
Airlines including BA, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Finnair, and the Latam Group, have also joined the NDC Exchange with Air Canada the first in August.
The Canadian carrier’s global product distribution director Keith Wallis said:“It became apparent to us very quickly that NDC Exchange was the perfect fit.
“It is built by industry partners that we know and trust, and it allows us to work with multiple sellers through one connection. NDC Exchange is enabling Air Canada to innovate and get to market rapidly.”
The adoption of NDC by airlines will continue to accelerate next year with the effective use of NDC standards to introduce new products and offers to travellers gaining traction, the study suggests.
The report projects faster payments across multiple platforms with airlines already making the shift to accept alternative payments like WeChat Pay, Alipay and Apple Pay.
“Alternative payments will only grow in the future, as we see a closer relationship between a person’s identity and their mobile device. Moreover, continuous demand for enhanced security and identification systems has led to increasing adoption of biometric data encryption devices such as Face ID,” it said.
Accompanying a shift to mobile is a greater reliance on voice assistants.
“We may see a spike in voice travel search activity as more Voice Assist units are sold and more GenZ consumers grow into the travel market.,: according to the study.
“Travel search has to be ready to adapt. Moving to retail and e-commerce, we will see frequent repeat purchases pick up within the voice medium, simply because there is no confusion in the user’s mind about the product they are getting – ‘Alexa, order my Nespresso capsules’ is a relatively simple command.
“There are still a number of questions on whether voice search might become a significant opportunity for search and booking or simply a tool for travel management, but Air Canada’s user-case hints at promising possibilities.
“Over the next 20 years, delivering seamless travel to 8.2 billion travellers will rely increasingly on the open exchange of information, simplified bookings, easier payments, and smart applications that encourage passengers to manage their own travel.”