“We believe travel can make better human beings, as well as a better world. Trip.com aims to make travel simple and easy,” said Hillman Lam, General Manager, International Business at the global online travel agency.
Trip.com was launched in 2017, and focuses on using innovation to help people travel in more convenient and enjoyable ways. It offers a one-stop service for booking a wide array of services including flights, hotels, trains, car rentals, tours and tickets for sightseeing attractions.
Trip.com has developed rapidly, and currently provides services across 23 countries and regions, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Australia and the United Kingdom.
“The key behind our fast growth has not been reducing the price of our products to be significantly lower than others offered in the market,” Lam said. “Instead, it is following our three core values in everything we do.”
These values are: providing a user-centered experience, investing in big data, and building a social bond with travellers.
Putting users centre-stage
“In order to succeed in the online travel agency business, user experience must come first,” Lam said, pointing out that nowadays anyone can compare the prices of flights and hotels online. Trip.com aims to differentiate itself by giving users the freedom and ability to make the best choices possible.
“Therefore, we try to make the layout of our website and mobile app as transparent as possible, to present the options available in a clear way.”
As online shopping and booking has become the norm over the past couple of decades, one downside is that it can be difficult to get hold of a real person to answer questions or discuss any problems. Trip.com was determined that this should not be an issue for its customers.
“What sets us apart is that we do not compromise on the quality of our customer service in order to save costs,” Lam said. “Our contact numbers are located prominently on our website and mobile app. We have over 700 call centre staff supporting 18 languages.”
This large contingent of customer service workers may seem “excessive,” Lam said, but it is all part of the company’s focus on user experience. “We believe it is necessary and worthwhile. It is crucial for online travel agencies to connect with customers on the ground.”
Data collected by Trip.com indicates that around 5% of their customers make use of the telephone hotline to reconfirm reservations or to solve enquiries.
Driven by data
Lam stressed that it is important to maintain an open mindset, keep abreast of the latest industry trends, and understand the situation of the company - which can all be done by interpreting the relevant big data.
“Data can help us identify overlooked problems and anticipate issues. A successful online travel agency should be driven by big data,” Lam said.
Trip.com’s use of advanced technology is also mixed with a personal touch, and the company’s data-driven strategy is supported by a bottom-up work culture. Lam explained that while the company has a dedicated business intelligence team to conduct data analysis, all staff members are also encouraged to participate in the process.
“This is to help us see the whole picture thoroughly,” he said. Different people have different interpretations and insights on the results of data, which can help drive new ideas and inspire further innovations.
“I always remind our teammates that no one can be 100% certain about their decisions,” Lam said. “But we can use data to find out whether what we have done is right or wrong, so that we can learn from the past.”
Establishing social values
Another core value of Trip.com is its efforts to establish “social value” for the general public. Simply making the cheapest booking is not the priority. Lam emphasized that in today’s data-driven world, the wide range of information available can help clients make informed decisions about where they choose to travel, and can even help them to understand the world better.
Lam said that the mission of Trip.com is to encourage such social value, and also to encourage the development of a travelling community.
“We do not only invest in projects that make a profit. We try to study what our customers’ pain-points in travel are, and develop products to troubleshoot these problems,” Lam said. “We realize that many travellers spend a lot of time and energy to organize their trips properly.”
A recent function Trip.com has introduced is a mobile app called My Trips. Users can enter information for their flight, hotel and train bookings, in addition to other notes. Then the app will collate all the information and present it clearly in an itinerary. In addition, it will automatically display some useful information, such as the designated gate for flights, and maps for the hotel.
My Trips is not just for customers who have booked their flights and hotels through Trip.com, Lam explained. “Travellers who purchased their tickets from other agencies are also welcome to use this service,” he added.
Looking ahead, Trip.com aims to become more deeply involved in all of the five stages of travel: inspiring, planning, booking, experiencing and sharing. It strives to continue to expand its user base worldwide, so as to become a huge global hub for travellers to interact and share information as well as booking the services they need on their trip.
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