Industry Insider: The online travel boom & agents of change with Bestjet’s Rachel James

This week Industry Insider delves into the world of online travel, speaking with Rachel James, Managing Director for Bestjet, and finalist in the Entrepreneur of the Year and Technology categories for the 2016 Women in Travel Awards.

Organising our lives online has become instinctive. We reach for our electronic devices without thinking, the idea of travelling to a bricks-and-mortar shop now a novelty or even a chore.

Globally, consumer habits have evolved. Customers want everything at their fingertips and purveyors are scrambling to service this click-happy market.

The travel industry is a leader in this space and is paving the way in technology and software development to service evolving needs.

Which is why it is so important for Bestjet to be technologically agile, the online travel environment is evolving so quickly and we must continually adapt to stay relevant.

Unlike other agencies, we have made it our priority to be technological trail-blazers, which has accelerated our success as an emerging online travel agency. I believe that our technological innovation is responsible for our rapid rise in the market.

In four years, Bestjet has grown to become the fourth-largest online travel agent in Australia and is continuing to record strong growth.

We have a team of software engineers working in-house every day to ensure our customers are using world-leading booking systems to find the best possible deals.

Consumer demand for travel is strong and rising, but consumers are demanding more from services across the whole travel life cycle.

The modern traveller is demanding travel services that demonstrate convenience, online price transparency, and provide tailored, integrated packages.

I found that there was so much ambiguity in the travel industry, to a point where it was almost impossible for consumers to know they are getting the best deal.

Our aim is to deliver a ‘next generation’ booking experience to consumers utilising trusted technology that can locate the best price the first time, and every time.

Although the speed of innovation and use of technology is transforming the landscape of the travel industry, I don’t see the traditional bricks-and-mortar travel agent becoming extinct.

They are however faced with the challenge to keep up with consumer demand and must reinvent themselves to stay relevant and competitive.

You can see that the travel industry as a whole is shifting towards mobile usage, as travellers become more comfortable using their mobile devices to research and book their travel plans on the go.

Our consumer-centric website went mobile-friendly after witnessing how portability was changing the way consumers interact with the industry.

We know that mobile devices are becoming the booking device of choice in several emerging markets.

Our consumers are using their mobiles for a variety of functions throughout the travel life cycle, so it is essential that we are accessible to our audience on these devices.

Succeeding in the online travel game requires a quick reaction to consumer demand and industry trends.

Bestjet is ahead of the game, and I look forward to continued growth and software improvements as we continue to transform the online travel industry.