Even hunting for a fair price for a flight or hotel stay can be a nightmare for consumers. The process typically involves searching for the same flights and accommodations on a range of different airline, hotel, home rental and travel platform websites to lock down the best price available. What’s more, companies in the space have been known to use customers’ search efforts against them, raising the costs for customers who have viewed certain flights or accommodations before.
Lately, though, Google has looked to bring greater transparency to the travel payments market.
The company recently added new capabilities to its Google Flights platform. The new feature is designed to show users the average price of airline tickets based on historical information from that year. Hotel price comparisons are also included in the feature, allowing users to see their prices stacked up against others on a gradient: low, typical and high.
Elsewhere in the travel space, many major U.S. airline players are looking to bring in budget-conscious travelers and encourage additional purchases by offering loyalty and rewards programs. Even with the discounts offered to customers, this approach could pay off for airlines by inspiring more overall spending.
American Airlines, for instance, has used rewards and promotions in an effort to boost credit card payments on flights. A new platform enabling rewards and card acceptance has allowed American to end cash payments for in-flight purchases.
Allegiant Air and Frontier Airlines have also gone cashless, and — like American — are placing increased emphasis on rewards. This trend toward loyalty-based promotions is heating up and helping lift airline revenues: According to the The Wall Street Journal, major U.S. airlines earned more revenue from loyalty and credit card rewards programs in 2018 than they did in 2017.
Still, other players are looking to simplify travel payments by utilizing customer data to save travelers’ time, if not necessarily money. HomeAway, for instance, is investing in emerging technologies in hopes of helping consumers navigate around travel payment challenges, including the looming threat of fraud and cybercrime.
In a recent interview, Mike Sutter, senior director and general manager of commerce at HomeAway, offered an inside look at how the company is working to leverage real-time data, mobile payments, cryptocurrencies and other new technology to provide travelers with a simpler way to book and pay for reservations.