Online Travel Providers Evolve As Users Move To Mobile
A recent study by Google found that more and more people are searching for travel destinations via their mobile devices. The study found that over the past year there were 50% more searches about holiday destinations executed via mobile. Digging deeper into the study revealed that flight-related queries were up 33% on mobiles and tablets year-on-year.
That’s a big challenge for companies such as online travel specialists FlightHub, Expedia or Tripadvisor, all of whom rely on providing quick, easy information for consumers who are not particularly brand loyal, but are simply looking for the most convenient, affordable option for their precious vacation time.
Being able to service these needs quickly and efficiently requires a smart, integrated system that embraces the best of the cloud and all it can offer. FlightHub DevOps Engineer Neil Conlan explains that, by making use of Amazon Web Services (AWS) for infrastructure, “we are able to scale our services to any level. AWS gives our developers flexibility to experiment and make use of all the different services that AWS offers without actually having to deal with the hardware.”
The online travel industry has undergone a year of massive disruption with a handful of the major players making large acquisitions to consolidate the market. For example, Expedia recently bought HomeAway.com for a whopping $3.9 billion dollars, giving it access to over 115 000 new vacation rental listings. These purchases came hot on the heels of their acquisition of Orbitz and Travelocity, and leave Expedia and Priceline with a huge percentage of the online travel market share. To FlightHub CEO Matt Keezer this served as motivation. He explains: “Seeing companies like Priceline and Expedia is extremely motivating. We believed that a small and nimble player would have a good chance of taking some piece of the market where the big guys weren’t paying so much attention. We saw that the flight segment has been largely ignored due to small and shrinking margins. Everyone was, and still is to a large degree, focused on hotels and beyond.”
Scale At Breakneck Speeds
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These companies are spreading their reach further and further around the globe and the data justifies it. Studies predict the next big growth phase in travel and vacation rentals to likely come from the extremely mobile-focused emerging markets, and this ties in neatly with a heavy investment in sophisticated cloud computing systems.
FlightHub’s CEO agrees that “emerging markets are an opportunity to scale your business at breakneck speed.” the company revealed that “it was completely necessary to design region-specific sites and make more efficient mobile sites that are simple to use on lower quality connections and wireless networks.”
Conlan agrees with this summation and sees it as one more reason to invest heavily in the cloud. “Companies that make use of the cloud are able to release software much faster,” he explains, “and can focus more on software rather than having to deal with hardware. This results in greater innovation.”
As competition heats up in the lucrative world of online travel and margins get smaller, the key is efficiency, flexibility and speed in order to deliver simple, mobile-friendly solutions.
By Jeremy Daniel