Why Travel Websites Need Bot ProtectionOnline travel booking ranks among the most exciting and dynamic economic sectors on the planet. In 2015, global online travel sales totaled 496 billion U.S. dollars. This figure is projected to grow to 817 billion U.S. dollars in 2020. For sure, these numbers make the online travel industry a very lucrative business. Recent market consolidations in the online travel space validate the big market opportunity.
The online travel industry is primarily made up of travel eCommerce sites and review sites. Travel eCommerce websites specialize in the selling of travel products such as flights, hotels, and rental cars. These can be either purchased directly through a travel company's website, such as the Lufthansa website, or through an online travel agency (OTA), such as Expedia. Travel review websites, such as TripAdvisor, allow travelers to post their experience of hotels, restaurants, and other hospitality purchases online. Internet users now appreciate the ability to create their own itineraries and directly book accommodation at listed locations.
How Online Bots Impact Travel Booking WebsitesTravel websites are one of the most vulnerable businesses when it comes to online frauds committed via bots and web scrapers. Businesses need to take proactive steps to protect travel portals from bot attacks. Let's examine how each travel bot fraud poses a big threat to travel websites globally:
- Competitive travel price scraping
- OTAs, hotel booking websites and rental car portals invest big dollars in getting the most competitive prices and deals for customers. Their sales teams are always on their toes to partner with the best vendors and get the latest deals and listings online. Before booking a travel package, customers mostly check the prices on different portals to buy the most economic deal. If at this point, even if your travel eCommerce portal has the most competitive pricing, your competition can take away your customers. Yes, your competitors steal your pricing data in real-time and automatically lower the prices on their website on those specific routes and deals for more conversions. This is called price scraping. Pricing scraping on your portals reduces conversions on your website and also downgrades your SEO because of high bounce rates. Excessive crawling by bots also overburdens your IT infrastructure and slows down the website for genuine visitors.
- Travel itinerary theft
- Experiential tourism allows travelers to experience travel in the very native way and explore new places. Experiential travel portals have to invest a lot of time and money to partner with several local vendors and then convert all this into a well-crafted travel itinerary, a unique experience in itself. This unique experience is what defines the brand for such travel businesses. Now, there are new and established travel portals looking to leverage on your competitive unique selling proposition. All they do is to copy all the travel itineraries including vendor data from your website and then arrange the same experience for getting bookings on their website. Travel itinerary theft negatively impacts SEO and customer conversions because your travel packages are no longer unique.
- Content theft from travel blogging websites
- The core asset of a travel blogging website
is its curated and high-quality content. These travel blogging
platforms make good advertising revenue because of the solid
genuine user base they have. Now there are many travel websites
that are looking at fraudulent ways to generate more traffic and
monetize by stealing original content. These competitors
constantly scrape entire web pages in mere seconds and put the
same content with a few alterations on their own websites. Now,
these websites that scrape your content start to leverage on your
hard work. This is called web
scraping and is done via automated scripts called bots. This
heavily impacts the original website's SEO and increases IT
infrastructure cost. The blogging business deteriorates even more
when bots start to click on ads placed on the website. Sooner or
later, advertisers lose trust in your website because of excessive
bot traffic leading to advertisement click fraud.
- Spam comments on travel review websites
- User data and partner data theft
- Online travel portals require users to sign in before they can book tickets or buy packages. This user data is of utmost importance, both for the company to maintain user privacy and to re-target through email marketing campaigns. Every new user acquired for online travel portals has a lifetime value and it obviously comes at an initial cost. Your competitors and fraudsters mostly use automated programs known as online bots to steal this sensitive information from your website for their own business or for selling it to others. Such bot attacks on online travel websites to steal user data can devalue the brand and customer loyalty.
- Fake bookings and inflated flight prices due to heavy bot traffic
- The only objective of OTA's and airline booking websites is to get maximum flight bookings. While your team is passionately working to achieve this very objective, your competitors will employ bots to generate fake bookings to pull down your flight booking business. While online bots commit various frauds like fake bookings and price scraping, these bots aggressively check various flight routes and this, in turn, inflates flight prices on your website. This happens when your flight booking portal fails to distinguish between bot traffic and genuine users in real-time. Often than not, this is done by your competitors to get genuine users move from your website to theirs.
If you own an online travel website, you don't just need an accurate bot protection platform to eliminate numerous bot frauds, but you also need to have an effective bot management strategy in place. A bot protection and management strategy can help your travel business eliminate fraud, provide accurate marketing insights, optimize server bandwidth and grow at much a faster pace.