Industry Update
Opinion Article29 May 2018

A New Threat to Your E-Booking Ecosystem: Online Journey Hijacking

By Chemi Katz, Co-founder & CEO, Namogoo

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The impact of online travel booking sites has certainly been felt over the last decade. When you consider how cumbersome things used to be - dealing with agents over the phone or in-person at a travel agency - you quickly realize how revolutionary this new world of travel really is. Today, consumers are only a few clicks away from having a beautiful room on a secluded island fully booked with relaxation on the horizon.

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With so many booking sites to choose from, consumers are faced with myriad options - which is great for travelers looking to score the best deals. But from the travel vendor's standpoint, competition has grown fierce in this rapidly expanding market. In fact, the digital travel sales space is expected to reach $817.54 billion by 2020 according to Statista, and the market is only going to grow as consumers continue to prefer booking digitally over the alternatives.

With this in mind, one aspect that becomes critical for these online travel sites is maintaining a consistently pleasant online customer experience. The last thing a brand wants is for their customer's online journey to be disrupted as they're browsing and potentially booking a trip. To make sure the process is as easy as possible for consumers, companies are investing heavily to make online booking seamless and memorable for every customer.

A New Threat Impacting E-Booking - Online Journey Hijacking

However, there's a new threat that has emerged that could send the online experiences of the world's top online travel brands to less than ideal destinations - Online Journey Hijacking. Online Journey Hijacking happens when a consumer is browsing on an online travel site and is shown unauthorized pop-ups and banner ads that promote similar hotels, flights or travel deals to what they're shopping for.

Let's say you want to book a hotel room for a weekend getaway, so you head over to Expedia to check out the latest deals. While you're on the checkout page, an ad for Trivago pops up promoting similar rooms in the same area - for less than you were about to spend. What would you do? If you're a savvy bargain hunter, you'll likely check out what the other site has to offer, despite the fact that you had every intention of booking on Expedia.

This happens more often than you'd think, and it's important to note that these ads are not served by the businesses themselves. They are driven by malware that is injected on the consumer side - directly into their browser or device through software bundle updates or free, unsecured Wi-Fi networks. The unwanted distractions damage a company's brand reputation by diverting customers away to other sites, leading to potentially lost revenue for the brand and a totally interrupted experience for consumers.

Online Journey Hijacking's Industry-Wide Impact

While this is a new problem across the digital travel ecosystem, its impact is certainly felt. According to a recent analysis of consumer website sessions, anywhere from 15-25 percent of all web sessions are being impacted by this malicious, revenue-stealing activity - with the figure jumping up even higher during times of peak website traffic.

Understanding this new threat's impact becomes especially important as you consider the process through which most travelers plan their trips. According to a study from Google and Phocuswright, 55 percent of casual vacationers make one or two trips per year, and to maximize their time off, they spend a significant amount of time scouring the web to find the best deals possible - from cheap airfare to hotel bookings and other transportation options like rental cars.

Making the Most of the Online Booking Experience

It certainly makes sense why consumers would want to make the smartest, most cost-effective choices possible when booking online. Price-match offers have popped up more and more over the last few years to save consumers money, and the next site is always a click away. Because of this, ensuring the customer journey is experienced as smoothly as intended becomes especially crucial.

The intense competition among online travel booking sites has undoubtedly driven brands to craft a seemingly optimal online experience on their respective sites. And as they look for different ways to ensure their website is the one consumers choose to book on, Online Journey Hijacking should be on their radar as a pitfall to avoid.

Chemi Katz

Chemi is co-founder and CEO of Namogoo, a pioneering Online Hijacking Prevention technology enabling businesses to preserve a distraction-free online experience, gain control over all 3rd party services running on their site, and enhance eCommerce metrics. He is a visionary and serial entrepreneur who has been building disruptive technologies in the security, commerce and advertising spaces for over 17 years.

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