Zooming Out to Zoom In: How Online Travel Agents Can Adapt To The Modern Traveler

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Sep 8, 2022

Zooming Out to Zoom In: How Online Travel Agents Can Adapt To The Modern Traveler

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Sep 8, 2022

Consumers are sick of being told what to do, and prescriptive travel agencies must adapt to flexible adventurers, or be eclipsed by companies who let consumers make their own choices. During the global pandemic in 2020, lockdowns, closed borders, and travel regulations were a headache for everyone. In 2022, travelers are shaking the dust off, eager to explore an entire globe of possibilities without the restraints of traditional itineraries.

To accommodate this new breed of tourism, travel apps are moving away from strict filtering user experience (UX) and towards explorative UX, with flexible dates, open-ended destinations, and limitless possibilities. Mapbox plays a big role in revealing these opportunities to travel agencies––blazing the trails for their clientele to navigate the world in a new, curious, and exciting way.

Travel Trends in 2022 And Beyond

After lifting lockdown restrictions, people are ready to splurge on travel. According to an Expedia Survey on tourism, 68 percent of respondents plan to “go big” on their next trip: traveling farther, spending higher, and missing out on fewer experiences. Additionally, 41 percent plan to seek out “excitement” and “exhilaration,” a contrast to trips based on tight routines, schedules, and locality.

By embracing spontaneity through explorative UX design, travel apps can guide their customers through their adventures and become an invaluable resource along the way.

What Is Explorative UX?

Explorative UX is a user experience for travelers that prioritizes adventure, emotion, and instincts––putting dates, times, and locations on the back burner. Travelers are zooming out to zoom in, which means tailoring maps to take a wider vantage than the city center, hiking trail, or travel brochure in front of them.

For example, instead of going straight from the hotel to the beach for the day, travelers might add a detour across town to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant or a coal mine tour from a bygone era. Virtual travel agents should be involved before, during, and after trips to lend a helping hand to travelers who don’t want an hour-by-hour itinerary.

How Do Travel Apps Use Explorative UX?

Online apps have begun utilizing explorative UX to satisfy eager customers. Virtual travel agents such as AirBnB, VRBO, and Kiwi all offer flexible booking experiences, allowing customers more freedom before and during their trips.

Explorative travel apps use customer data to suggest hotels, flights, or activities without strict filters regarding dates and locations. These innovations have paid off, with AirBnB consistently achieving record quarters of revenue despite pandemic restrictions.

Benefits of Explorative UX

The explorative UX model yields both an improved customer experience, and higher travel sales. With a virtual Indiana Jones, travelers might be inspired to visit multiple destinations, go off the beaten path, and invest more in the tourism industry than they would venturing alone.

Consider Costco versus an average supermarket: At Costco, there’s more flexibility in products, more variety in industries, and more possibilities to buy. Consequently, customers typically spend more money at Costco than at their corner store market. Likewise, when travel retailers offer more suggestions, flexible options, and rarer opportunities tailored to customers’ preferences, their clients might respond with bigger budgets.

According to Google, nearly half of experience booking happens once travelers arrive at their destinations. Apps must use location data and sophisticated point-of-interest-based mapping to make exciting suggestions. This is where Mapbox comes in.

How Mapbox Improves Your Travel App

By integrating Mapbox global mapping solutions into their apps, travel companies can be sure to provide eager explorers with the best possible information for their trips. Using Mapbox Studio, companies can customize maps highlighting points-of-interest and destinations relevant to each traveler.

If travelers have reservations for jet skis on the beach, their virtual travel guide might suggest a bike rental near their AirBnB. By using data driven by half a billion monthly active users, plus data from the travelers themselves, companies can generate next-level explorative maps for every occasion and any destination.

Mapbox Navigation is the perfect tool for adventurers who value spontaneity. Free-drive navigation allows app users to travel without a set destination, populating routes with points-of-interest, traffic data, and other relevant information. Matrix API returns travel times between multiple different points in seconds, optimizing routing so tourists can make quick decisions on the road.

When travel companies integrate Mapbox Navigation into their apps, a network of activities is easily created for their clients, including the best way to get from point A to point B. Or to spontaneously add points C, D, and E along the way.

Plus, if customers decide to travel off-road, they can use our offline maps to charter new paths without cellphone service. Travel companies can't always tell their customers what to do or where to go—but state-of-the-art maps can be there to lead travelers into the wild and safely back home.

Mapbox Globe View

With Mapbox Globe View, users zoom all the wayout to zoom back in. Travelers can plan multi-destination trips they visualize with a 3D-rendered globe, which keeps track of their trip on a macro level before customers zoom in to specific, street-level sites. Now, it’s easier than ever to discover destinations that otherwise would have not been considered.

The Friends We Made Along The Way

In the modern travel landscape, successful online travel agents don’t call it a day when tourists book their tickets. With customers ready to hatch new plans at the drop of a hat, companies must find ways to remain relevant to travelers before, during, and after each trip. This means adding flexibility for the fresh frontier of adventure.

By using Mapbox’s high-quality mapping technology to enhance an explorative user experience, travel companies can help their customers take on the world in a whole new way—increasing sales, improving overall experiences, and ensuring more bookings in the future.

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Maps feature data from Mapbox © Mapbox, OpenStreetMap © OpenStreetMap and their data partners, including Maxar (if applicable, © Maxar).