JP Morgan Chase is venturing deeper into the travel agency business, with plans to offer a host of travel services ranging from simple flight bookings to complex full-service trip planning. Chase has a chance to revolutionize the market…but it can most effectively do so by getting the little things right, particularly 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. In essence, there’s a Chase skin over an Expedia search engine. Yet for some reason the site is worse than Expedia itself and often fails to offer the most logical (and available) flight options for reasons I cannot explain.
Furthermore, the site frequently errors out at different points in the booking process and is extremely slow. The most annoying thing is going through the entire booking process only to see the itinerary error out on the final ticketing page.
In my experience, most bookings via Chase require a call to book.
I recently did a points booking for an Award Expert client using her Ultimate Rewards points. It made more sense to book via Chase at 1.5 cents per point than transfer to an airline partner. The process was painfully inefficient and slow…though we finally got it done. The flight I wanted, as so often occurs, did not show up on the online travel portal.
Instead, I had to call and reached an overseas agent who really was in over his head. Kind to a fault, wanting to help, but so poorly trained I was shocked we were able to get the booking done (and only by me walking him though slowly and step-by-step how to find and then book the space).
Chase needs a smooth airline booking portal. It should have the following:
- The ability to customize segments, with an advanced mode to specify flight number and booking class if booking a specific itinerary (agents can do this – time to let consumers do this too). It is currently impossible to booked mixed cabin itineraries online. It should be easy to do.
- The ability to easily change or cancel the itinerary online – currently you must call to cancel or change most segments – this is is a waste of time and human resources.
- It should be fast. The current site is far too slow.
- Fares should be confirmed early in the booking process, not late in the booking process. After inputing passenger names, a PNR should be created with the space holding confirmed before any payment details or other information is requested. This technology exists – it just must be implemented.
- Allow fares to be held. One great thing about booking via a travel agent versus an airline directly is the ability to hold most fares (on a complimentary basis). This won’t be available in all situations and the fare may not always be guaranteed, but the ability to easily hold a fare would drive a lot of bookings to Chase.
I’m less interested in the hotel side of the travel agency since, presumably, elite benefits at major hotel chains will not be offered via direct bookings. Still, it would be nice to see an expansion of Chase’s Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection to include more property such that upgrades, breakfast, and late check-out would be available even if elite benefits were not.
On the concierge side, hold times should be short, agents should be trained (meaning, practically, they are well-traveled), and direct telephone numbers, personalized email, and chat via SMS, iMessage, or WhatsApp should be used to create a whole deeper dimension of personal contact between agent and traveler.
Per the Wall Street Journal:
JPMorgan believes it can differentiate itself partly because of its detailed insight into what its customers spend. Its data will power both travel agents and artificial intelligence technology that can target customers with offers and ideas.
That’s fine, but that’s not what will drive loyalty. Making the process simple and empowering end-users to be able to book what they want will make many loyal customers…myself included.
Good luck Chase.