Budget and Beyond: How to Leverage Virtual Interlining's Top Trends

April 3, 2024

As we navigate the rapidly evolving landscape of global travel, we find that cutting-edge technologies and innovative tactics are reshaping our journeying experiences. One such technology is Virtual Interlining (VI). As VI  continues to gain traction, both Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) and travellers stand to benefit. Virtual interlining expertly merges flight segments from non-affiliated airlines, weaving together bespoke travel itineraries that are both budget-friendly and offer increased versatility. As such, VI is fast becoming a priority in OTA roadmaps, providing a unique pathway for agencies to improve their service offerings and stay ahead of the competition. It is paramount for stakeholders in the OTA industry to stay updated with the latest trends in air travel to retain their competitive advantage. So, what are the leading trends within VI that should be on your radar?

1. Dynamic Fare Combinations

A key trend in Virtual Interlining is the rise of dynamic fare combinations. This novel approach to itinerary composition enables OTAs to integrate flight segments from both traditional airlines, also known as Full Service Carriers (FSCs), with segments from Low-Cost Carriers (LCCs) in real time to produce a more cost-effective and convenient travel solution for travellers.

Using sophisticated algorithms, such as the ML and AI algorithms within SmartFlights API, OTAs can generate unique flight itineraries that cater to individual traveler preferences and budgets. The advantages of this strategy extend beyond just cost savings. Collaborations between OTAs and technology providers like Trip Ninja allow the curation of itineraries that combine the lowest-priced segments of LCCs and FSCs to create a dynamic itinerary that blends budget with comfort.

Managing dynamic itineraries within VI is reframing the way OTAs procure and package flights. Drawing from a wider range of price points, OTAs can leverage technology partners like Trip Ninja to extend greater flexibility and customization to their travellers.

2. Enhanced Connectivity

With increased international travel, and a blurring of lines between leisure and business travel, enhanced connectivity is an emerging trend for OTAs, especially within VI. For OTAs, the goal of providing flights from anywhere to anywhere is more relevant than ever. Current industry efforts focus on improving connectivity between flights and reducing layover times.

One strategy to enhance connectivity is the integration of different modes of transportation within a single itinerary. Apart from combining FSC and LCC flight segments, some OTAs are integrating train, ferry, and shuttle services into their custom travel routes. This multi-modal approach represents an evolution in the traveller-centric convenience provided by OTAs.

Behind this significant progress in connectivity is an increasing collaboration between airlines and tech companies. Innovations in Travel Tech are enabling VI risk management tools, dynamic rerouting, and real-time updates about flight status and layovers. These emerging features allow OTAs to take full control of how and to what extent they offer VI itineraries, creating a more transparent and satisfying travel experience for travellers.

3.  Personalized Travel Experiences

In recent years, the emphasis on individualization while constructing travel itineraries has notably increased. As the travel planning and booking process continues to evolve, the application of technology within OTA infrastructure is steadily becoming a critical component of the travel booking experience.

Prominent technology players are collaborating with OTAs throughout the entire journey from research, with the shared goal of enhancing both the traveler's experience and the conversion rate for OTAs. Front-runners in the generative AI world have added significant value to the booking process of partnered OTAs, while other companies like AirLegit help OTAs monitor travel disruptions and re-book flights. With our SmartFlights API, Trip Ninja specializes in refining flight search and structure to construct the optimal VI itinerary for specific traveller types.

We expect the strategy of modifying flight recommendations and services to accommodate the distinct needs and preferences of each traveller to remain relevant and become a staple in shaping virtual interlining itineraries.

The ever-changing nature of the travel industry offers Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) the opportunity to innovate and differentiate themselves. It is essential for those operating in this space to stay abreast of emerging trends to retain their competitive posture, and partner with technology partners that do the same. The three topics reviewed above provide an overview of how the right Virtual Interlining tool can capture the opportunity within current trends to improve traveller experience, conversions and revenue.

Discover how you can capitalize on emerging VI trends to enrich your business strategy by connecting with our team at support@tripninja.io.

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