Travel companies continue to look for ways to remove friction and improve the travel experience for consumers.
Some have added new forms of payment, allowing consumers to spread the cost of travel, while others have introduced new insurance initiatives to reassure travelers should their plans change.
Earlier this month, Aloke Bajpai, CEO of Ixigo, hinted in an interview with PhocusWire that the company was about to add another fintech product to give customers more booking flexibility.
To that end, the travel app has introduced Ixigo Flex, which allows travelers to purchase flexible airline tickets with no additional rescheduling fees, aside from any fare differences.
Ixigo says the Flex product, which is available for domestic flights, offers a “single reschedule request” that covers date change, airline change and an option to change origin/destination.
Rajnish Kumar, group co-founder and chief product and technology officer, says: “With travel making a comeback in force and the rise of the hybrid working model, there is a demand for even more flexibility when it comes to making changes to trips. itineraries without incurring heavy penalties and rescheduling of flights in a fully automated manner”.
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The Ixigo Flex product is added to Ixigo Assured, the company’s cancellation product for any reason.
In his recent interview with PhocusWire, Bajpai said the company plans to spend “more time and energy on these types of products.” He added that the approach is similar to that of US-based Hopper, noting that Hopper CEO Fred Lalonde is on Ixigo’s board.
“Our conversations with [Lalonde] it helped us build a greater belief that these work, but we independently created them with the data,” he said.
Separately, Amadeus is adding buy now and pay later (BNPL) options to its Xchange payment platform through partnerships with Uplift and Fly Now Pay Later.
Partnerships allow airlines, travel agencies and hotels to add BNPL options to their sales channels.
Amadeus says its research shows that most consumers will spend more on travel if BNPL options are available and most will also be more likely to purchase ancillary services.
Beatrice Bouju, Head of Partnerships and Payments at Amadeus, says: “BNPL’s growth across all sectors has been remarkable and the message from travelers is clear: they want the option to pay for travel in installments. Such payment options will help the travel recovery by facilitating pent-up demand for higher-value vacations as travel restrictions are lifted.”
New research from McKinsey details how payment innovation can help airlines improve the customer experience, increase revenue and reduce costs.
The report says airline booking payment transactions, valued at around $1 trillion annually, cost the industry which spends more than $20 billion each year in payment costs.
And it is clear that improving the customer experience and driving efficiency is not unique to airlines and OTAs, as the industry at large accepts the need for greater efficiency and smoother travel.
In related news, the Moscow Central Circle (MCC) railway line has launched biometric “Face Pay” fare payments at all stations.
The facial recognition payment system is now available at 85 turnstiles at 31 MCC stations after a trial period.
Moscow Metro says that 190,000 users have registered for Face Pay and more than 33 million trips have been made using the biometric system.
The service is currently being tested on buses and will also be launched on river transport by the end of the year.