Technology

Kayak APAC head: “It’s not mobile first, it’s mobile only”

As we reported last week, mobile bookings are growing in a huge way.

Experts have been urging the travel industry to become more mobile friendly for a while now, and many companies are jumping on the bandwagon.

See also: New study reveals gaping hole in Aussie travel industry 

In some markets, the mobile booking trend is starting to totally eclipse all other booking platforms.

At least, that’s what Kayak’s APAC country head, Robin Chiang.

We had coffee with Chiang last week to find out what’s next in the world of travel tech, what travel companies need to do to keep up with the ever-changing techno landscape and whether robots will one day take over the world.

Okay, so he didn’t engage in our extreme robot paranoia but he did reassure us that AI is doing some great things for the industry.

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Chiang told us the online booking platform plans to be a one-stop shop.

We want to be there for every part of your travel journey, so when you’re first researching, when you book, when you plan, and when you’re on your journey as well,” He said.

“We have tools for all parts of that.”

He showed us some of the features of the Kayak app and to be perfectly honest we were pretty bloody impressed.

The function I really love is our trips function,” he told us. 

The trips function takes data from booking emails, with your permission of course, and compiles an itinerary for you so you have every detail of your trip, including booking numbers, flight details and addresses, at your fingertips.

Kayak’s mobile focus comes from closely monitoring and following trends to see exactly how travellers are interacting with their technology.

“There are some markets like Japan and Korea which are mobile only.”

“They don’t book travel on the web anymore. Or, at least, very little.”

“It’s not mobile first, it’s mobile only.”

We see that trend in every market, specifically in the Asia Pacific market and Australia and New Zealand as well, so the mobile is becoming increasingly important for us.”

“Globally its about 30 per cent but it’s higher than that in the Asia Pacific.”

According to Chiang, people have a very different relationship to their smartphones than they do to their PCs, so it’s important to treat the two platforms differently.

“The thing we’re seeing, especially for the younger generation, is they like to talk to their phone lot more like,” he said.

No, not in a creepy way like Joaquin Phoenix and his computer in Her, but talking to apps like Siri to get quick information and book on the go.

Shes-Not-Just-A-Computer-Joaquin-Phoenix-Her

“That’s why we started thinking about AI, we saw that trend in our user base where people would prefer to talk rather than typing or using a browser so we started looking at natural language type interactions,” Chiang told us. 

“It’s important to listen to the data, that’s what we’re all about.”

“For us, it doesn’t matter what platform it is, you’ve got to stick to your product strategy.”

“For example, on our chatbot, when we started using localised Australian English, our conversions went up.

“With chatbots, if you give people the option to have a one-click or one-word response, they are also more likely to book.”

“So incremental innovations, but they’re really important. Anything that simplifies the process.”

“It doesn’t matter if you’re going through mobile or Ai, that’s the key to the consumer’s heart.”


Do you have something to say on this? Get in touch with Travel Weekly Editor Ali Coulton here to share your thoughts.

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