We’re creating a more connected travel industry, underpinned by sustainability and long-term investor relations.
I must admit that I've never been as much of a traveller as Ben Hunt, and commuting to the airport in Madrid is nowhere close to being as painful as it is in London. Also, I've always managed to live near enough to the airport that I could afford that extra 45 minutes of sleep you always end up missing while on a trip. But that does not mean I haven't suffered my decent share of disruptions.
Back in 2010, in my past life as a financial PR consultant, trips to London were just another part of my work routine. And because of it, I became one of the 10 million “victims” of the eruption of the Icelandic volcano with the unpronounceable name that closed the European skies for more than a week. And also, of what seemed to me like a thousand days of strikes by French air controllers.
By the start of my summer holidays that year, I lost count of how many hours I had spent fighting with airlines over the reimbursement of cancelled flights and hotels over the nights I actually didn’t spend in their rooms, or trying to change dates for those bookings, to be able to use them a week or two after I had originally planned. So, trust me when I say that, just like Ben, I would have also loved if my providers automatically managed all that for me.
Or, let me rephrase that: I would've fallen in love with any travel agency that wouldn’t wait for me to get in contact with them, and actually came to me with solutions and alternatives. I would've sworn eternal loyalty to them. I believe this pretty much sums up what the global travel ecosystem unveiled last month by Amadeus has to offer travel agencies: a way to significantly increase customer loyalty. A happy traveller, one who doesn't have to deal with the hassle of ticket changing and bookings cancellations, will have a much more incentive to never cheat on his travel agency.
Disruption management is of course just a (maybe not so) small part of it. Probably more important is the huge opportunity for personalisation of the travel experience. As you probably remember, 2010 wasn't the most buoyant of times for the financial industry. This meant that what previously was a convenient flight to the London City Airport, just a short taxi ride from the City, and in most cases with lunch included, now was a low cost flight to Gatwick and then a ride on the Gatwick Express to Victoria Station.
Not that I've ever needed many frills on a business trip, but speedy boarding, not having to run (or even fight) for an aisle seat in the front rows, and maybe a quick sandwich during my flight back to Madrid would've come in handy. If my travel agency was able to offer me all of these extra services, while also remembering that I normally use them and include them automatically in my bookings to London, not only would I have sworn loyalty; I would've put that on paper and promised never to search, much less book, with any of their competitors ever again.