JP Morgan Chase is venturing deeper into the travel agency business, intending to offer a host of travel services ranging from simple flight bookings to complex full-service travel planning. Chase has a chance to revolutionize the market…but it can do it more effectively by getting the little things right, especially its new flight booking portal.
New JP Morgan Chase Travel Portal – How Chase Can Build Loyalty Through Simplicity
Currently, Chase uses an Expedia platform for its Ultimate Rewards travel portal. Essentially, there’s a Chase skin on an Expedia search engine. Yet for some reason the site is worse than Expedia itself and often doesn’t offer the most logical (and available) flight options for reasons I can’t explain.
Also, the site frequently gets it wrong at different points in the booking process and is extremely slow. The most annoying thing is going through the whole booking process only to see the itinerary error on the last ticketing page.
In my experience, most reservations through Chase require a call to reserve.
I recently made a points reservation for an Award Expert customer using her Ultimate Rewards points. It made more sense to book through Chase at 1.5 cents per point than to transfer to a partner airline. The process was painfully inefficient and slow…even though we eventually made it. The flight I wanted, as is often the case, did not appear on the online travel portal.
Instead, I had to call and reach an overseas agent who was really in over his head. Kind to a fault, willing to help, but so poorly trained that I was shocked that we were able to make the reservation (and only by me walking it slowly and step by step how to find and then reserve the space).
Chase needs a seamless airline booking portal. It should have the following:
- The ability to customize segments, with an advanced mode for specifying flight number and booking class if you’re booking a specific route (agents can do that – it’s time to let consumers do that too). It is currently not possible to book mixed cabin itineraries online. It should be easy to do.
- The ability to easily change or cancel the itinerary online – currently you have to call to cancel or change most segments – this is a waste of time and human resources.
- It should be quick. The current site is far too slow.
- Rates must be confirmed early in the booking process, not late in the booking process. After entering passenger names, a PNR must be created with the space reservation confirmed before payment details or other information is requested. This technology exists, it just needs to be implemented.
- Authorize the maintenance of tariffs. One of the advantages of booking through a travel agency over a direct airline is the ability to hold most fares (on a free basis). This will not be available in all situations and the rate may not always be guaranteed, but the ability to easily maintain a rate would result in many bookings at Chase.
I’m less interested in the hotel side of the travel agency since presumably the elite perks of the big hotel chains won’t be offered through direct bookings. Still, it would be nice to see an expansion of Chase’s Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection to include more properties such as upgrades, breakfast, and late checkout would be available even if elite perks weren’t.
On the concierge side, wait times need to be short, agents need to be trained (meaning they practically travel), and direct phone numbers, personalized emails, and chat via SMS, iMessage or WhatsApp should be used to create an all the deeper dimension of personal contact between agent and traveler.
Speak the wall street journal:
JPMorgan believes it can differentiate itself in part through its detailed view of what its customers spend. Its data will power both travel agents and artificial intelligence technology that can target customers with deals and insights.
That’s fine, but that’s not what will drive loyalty. By simplifying the process and allowing end users to book what they want, many customers will be loyal…myself included.
Good luck Chase.