Forter recently attended WiT Singapore, the largest online travel event in Asia Pacific. This year’s conference took a look back at how the travel industry has evolved over the past decade, and likewise looked forward to discuss what the future may hold for online travel businesses in the coming decade. Not surprisingly, fraud prevention and security were at the forefront of these discussions. According to Forter’s latest Fraud Attack Index, the travel industry was a popular target for fraudsters over the past year, with attack rates against airlines increasing by 61% and attack rates against ground transportation showing a 38% increase.
What makes travel unique from a fraud perspective?
In her interview with WiT founder Yeoh Siew Hoon, Forter CMO Angela Whiteford explains that one of the main fraud challenges in travel is that all interactions need to occur in real-time. “Consumers can’t wait to book a ticket. I just booked my train ticket 10 minutes before I boarded. That’s the way consumers are buying travel,” she explains, noting a rising trend towards last-minute bookings among travel customers. Another factor that makes the travel industry unique is the lack of loyalty consumers show towards specific travel brands. Whiteford explains, “I booked a hotel in New York and I looked at three travel sites before I picked one. In Asia, the market is developing fast and is more innovative and agile. There are new players in the market every day, and each country has its own platforms and preferences. So, if you can’t deliver an exceptional customer experience every time, you won’t survive.”
How can merchants exceed customer expectations while simultaneously protecting themselves from risk?
In an industry like travel, implementing a single, integrated fraud prevention platform is essential. When merchants use separate tools for each part of the customer journey, they don’t get a full picture of how each user behaves on their site, making it difficult to accurately determine who is a fraudster and who is a legitimate customer. Furthermore, a fragmented solution will also increase friction in the purchase journey, ultimately losing revenue and lifetime value (LTV) from customers who will gladly take their business to a platform with a more seamless experience. Because of the real-time, low loyalty nature of the industry, travel fraud prevention teams must work hand in hand with customer experience teams to deliver a secure, frictionless experience for all travelers.
In addition to the need to reduce friction, Whiteford explains the importance of being able to accurately distinguish between legitimate customers and fraudsters in the travel industry, especially when looking to expand into new markets. “OTAs or airlines with rules-based systems or manual review-based fraud prevention approaches may be overly conservative and block certain countries that are considered ‘high-risk,’ ” she explains. However, even the riskiest of regions represent untapped potential from a revenue standpoint, with legitimate customers ready to purchase from popular travel platforms.
Whiteford notes that “in general, of all of the consumers that you decline today, 50-70% of them are legitimate,” but without an accurate fraud prevention solution, merchants end up blocking good customers. As a result, travel companies may decide that it’s simply too difficult to tell the fraudsters from the legitimate buyers, and block or blacklist entire countries from transacting on their site. “If we get fraud prevention right,” says Whiteford, “we can equalize – why should someone be penalized just because they live in a certain country that’s been identified as high-risk?”
This year’s WiT conference was all about what the future of travel will look like in the coming decade. With the right fraud prevention approach, Whiteford notes that the future of travel can be an industry that’s safe, seamless, and open to everyone.
Watch the interview below to learn more: