Travolution Summit 2023: Focus on experiences to burst travel's e-commerce bubble

Travolution Summit 2023: Focus on experiences to burst travel's e-commerce bubble

Doron Luder, vice president sales of the collaborative travel selling platform Joyned delivered a Digital Masterclass at the annual event in London last month

The travel industry has an opportunity to transform for the coming digital age by understanding that they are in the business of selling experiences rather than destinations. 

Delivering a Digital Masterclass at the Travolution Summit, Doron Luder, vice president sales of the collaborative selling platform Joyned, said travel remains stuck in a legacy e-commerce bubble.

He said the reason why OMG! Is the biggest selling category on Airbnb is that millennials and GenZ are more interested in the experience and that deciding what to do and where to go is an innately collaborative exercise. 

When you last bought a holiday how many conversations did you have about that holiday? How many interactions? How many different times did you discuss it with other people? How many people did you discuss it with? 

“Was it something that you did by yourself in a vacuum, in a silo? Was it a conversation? Was it a decision-making process that you had with other people? Did you do it collaboratively? Or did you do it independently individually? 

“A study by Amadeus has shown that 80% of worldwide trips are done together. And that means that an individual, whether they're travelling by themselves, whether they're travelling in a group, they require input.

“And they require input from other people, whether it's a social validation that they need, a second opinion, where there's another decision maker, or stakeholder or a sponsor, whatever it might be, of that holiday. They're doing it together. They're doing it in a group, typically.” 

Luder said the first retailers that emerged at the dawn of the internet, like Amazon, approached the problem as though it was a warehouse offering the most varied and extensive selection of products available all on one screen.

“That created a huge opportunity and a second wave of start-ups who came and started building their e-commerce platforms on that model,” Luder said. 

“But the challenge that we had in the travel industry is that people don't buy travel like they buy books. Books are physical things, they are solo purchases people might require a recommendation at the start but are based upon a personal, individual preferences. 

“Whereas the travel industry is built upon experiences. People are not looking for a physical thing that can be purchased functionally and online as efficiently as possible. They want to dream. They want to find out more about what's out there. 

“This is the first challenge we have in the travel industry. The second challenge is the new generation has come, whether it's millennials or GenZ, and this is a generation which is social first. 

“This is a generation that wants to be sold to. Eighty two percent of GenZ and millennials ask their friends or family before they make an online purchase. And the types of purchases that they're making a completely different than previous generation. 

“The reason Airbnb’s largest category is OMG! is because people are coming online and they're not looking for destinations, they're looking for experiences.”

Luder added: “So the opportunity is there when you start to get into the mindset that we are selling experiences and not destinations.”

The third challenge travel has is that many people see travel as not just a one-off experience but as a transformative lifestyle change  

Sometimes they see travel as a journey, as a life journey,” said Luder. “And actually they're seeing it as a transformative experience. It could be that they're transitioning from one stage in their life to another. 

“It could be that they are transitioning from one personal relationship or a personal situation, and travelling, going to a new place, is a way to help that transformative process.

“This comes back to the idea of travel being a transformative experience. It's an immensely powerful idea that can be leveraged by the travel industry.”