Imagine a world with only one flavor of ice cream - vanilla. Seems pretty drab. Now imagine a world with over a million kinds of ice cream. Seems pretty tantalizing, doesn’t it. The problem is, how does one now choose from the infinite possibilities? Here’s the punchline: the best selling ice cream in the US is vanilla. Sure, one might argue that vanilla is a versatile flavor, but that’s the point. The simpler the choice, the easier it is to make the purchase. But how is selling ice cream compared to selling travel products? It seems evident that choice overload exists within the tourism industry the same as it does in other retail operations. So airlines aiming to enter the travel and tourism market need to take heed of behavioral economics and retail best practices.

The paralysis of choice

Let’s imagine you’re an airline with a lot of travel content that you think your passengers will love, such as car rentals or accommodations. Let’s even say you have access to and can offer over a thousand in-destination tours and activities. You know that your passengers excited to have more travel choices, so you want to get as many offers in front of them as possible - and who could blame you? But when you add up all the in-destination offers, an airline’s own virtual goods, it can make your website a confusing labyrinth of choices.

The result, however, is that passengers are overloaded with choices. This eye-opening study promotes the notion that choice overload can lead to purchasing paralysis. So what can airlines do to maximize offers while improving the travel experience?

The three option rule

Small. Medium. Large. Retailers have embraced the principles of simple categorizations to keep their customers from getting confused and overwhelmed. Fun fact, most people choose the middle option (at least when it comes to SaaS package bundles, or when buying coffee.) The same buying psychology applies to travelers. When a comfortable number of travel products are presented, or else they are parsed into convenient categories, travelers don’t feel a sense of anxiety that comes from sifting through an infinite list. But even then, are the offers being presented actually relevant to the traveler at that particular moment in their journey? Are you giving them deals on swimsuits when they’re traveling to Alaska?

Curation cures choice overload

When served up a curated list of products, buyers feel comfortable that they are selecting from a list of the best choices. Therefore, they feel less regret about their choices, and in turn, feel good about their travel experience with the brand that facilitated their choice. If they don’t like what’s presented, they can choose to dig deeper if they want - but they don’t have to, and that’s the greatest gift that a travel retailer can give: a vacation from hard decisions. Airlines can leverage their app to serve up the top pieces of personalized products and services based upon what they already know about their passengers: where they’re going, how long they’re there, the purpose of their trip, etc.

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Choosing the right technology tools

Airlines are also facing complex choices to determine the ideal travel technology to help drive revenue. Travel commerce technology with an AI-driven suggestion engine enables airlines to personalize the offers it serves to travelers. But there are a number of "personalization" platforms out there. The Guestlogix platform comes with a mountain of in-destination offers and also integrates an airline’s own products and services. The platform then curates choices from this mountain of options to present personalized offers at exactly the right moment in a traveler’s journey. The future for airlines will be determined by how well they embrace travel and tourism retail, and how loyal their passengers are to their brand. The choice is up to you.

Learn how better understanding behavior economics can enable airlines to promote and sell travel products and services more effectively. Download the white paper "The 10x Airline Revenue Opportunity" to get started.

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