We’re creating a more connected travel industry, underpinned by sustainability and long-term investor relations.
Our industry has to keep the perspective of travelers in focus if we want to be successful. This means being absolutely committed to traveler centricity and driven by their experiences.
I had a great time discussing this customer focus at the FVW Travel Tech Day in Cologne, where my keynote had a clear message: as an industry, we have to use technology in a way that strictly enhances customer experience.
I often see poor customer experiences in travel while other consumer-oriented industries seem to be leading in this key area. It’s obvious to me now that what brought us here will not get us to where we need to be. With this in mind, I’ve outlined five critical elements of developing technology that adheres to a customer centric mindset.
Focus on processes, context, convenience, and simplification
When it comes to customer experience, this means eliminating stressors. We need to improve the travel experience by reducing sources of pain, anxiety, and lost-time. This is taking shape currently with virtual assistants and AI support, but there is much more opportunity to take things even further.
Use data for understanding, relevance, and individualization
Today our use of data too often is superficial. In this area, travel search is ripe for changes. The search experience may in the future be substituted by hyper-individualized proactive proposals catering to a segment-of-one. We need to work on building our internal capabilities and processes with a clear recognition that ‘data is the new oil.’
Create true value, not just tech gimmicks
Tech gimmicks are a dime a dozen. But real value creating innovations will change everything. For example, using augmented and virtual reality to inspire travel or voice recognition to make things easier are just the first stepping stones. If not applied in a rich context and embedded into the full journey, they will repel users rather than creating value.
Embrace a disruptive, experimental mindset
We need to think big versus being ‘incrementalists.’ Together, the travel industry must leverage the rich ecosystem of start-ups, in and outside of travel. This means looking closely at tech like autonomous vehicles and biometrics, and seeing how they could disrupt travel.
Think of ‘Travel as a Platform’ that’s open, connected, and leverages startups
With this mindset, we can reach travelers at every step of their journey. From transfers, activities, dining, shopping, and events to everything that makes up the full end-to-end travel experience. We also need to continue fostering a culture of Open APIs to facilitate integration across platforms.
Following these elements, we can, as an industry, get the best out of technology to create excellent experiences for travelers. In tandem, we must address travelers’ needs for more choice, autonomy, and transparency when buying travel. I hope these points give you some food for thought. Now, it’s time to wake up and start disrupting the status quo or you should expect to be disrupted.