We’re creating a more connected travel industry, underpinned by sustainability and long-term investor relations.
No matter what sector you exist in, at its core, retailing is about the human touch. All retailers aim to inspire customers to purchase products and experiences that will enhance their lives. In the travel industry, this is even more relevant, as we are in the business of selling not just products, but life-long memories.
Retail travel agencies have experienced a period of profound change in recent years, as technology has reshaped the way that consumers buy products. Consumers are more well-traveled than ever, have more choice on offer to them and only want to be offered products that are relevant to their individual wants and needs.
Across the world, technology and connectivity are transforming the retail experience. In an era where consumers are neither purely online nor offline, they are seeking the best customer experience that combines both, across all steps in a traveler journey – dreaming, planning, booking, preparing, traveling and sharing.
We are now living in an omni-channel world, which puts added pressure on retail travel agents who need to have a consistent offer to travelers from their retail stores, to their websites, to mobile applications. So for retail travel agencies to succeed it will be key to provide travelers with the right content through the right channel at the right time.
Price comparison sites have also meant we have entered an era of transparency, meaning that agencies must differentiate not based on price, but on the experience they can offer travelers. And this experience must be frictionless, personalized and memorable, if they want shoppers to keep coming back.
Understanding and reacting to traveler motivations
We touched on these themes at the Agents of Travel conference with our customers in London. The James Bond themed event used the analogy of making someone their perfect Martini in order to discuss personalization and customer segmentation. Bond would not drink any old Martini. For him, it had to be a Vesper Martini. Retail travel agents have the opportunity to do just this with their customers. They can create better journeys because they know their customers preferences and are aware of where, how and why their customers shop the way they do.
So, what are the technology-led trends retail agents should be aware of, which are shaping the way travel is searched for, booked, paid for and experienced in 2020 which can help them to serve travelers even better.
Artificial intelligence is changing the way travel sellers can communicate and service their customers. By taking advantage of messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, as well as the power of AI-enabled voice assistants, the travel sector can act more like traditional retailers do and provide always-on support for their customers.
Innovations in financial technology are changing the way consumers expect to pay for their travel. With so many new ways to pay, travel agents must have systems which can accommodate these payments and also be able to advise their travelers on how to pay in-destination.
Technology can also help retail travel agents to ensure travelers keep coming back. With so much choice available, competitors are only a click away, retailers need to think carefully about how to drive loyalty. Even entry-level initiatives, such as making sure that customer data platforms are plugged in for repeat visitors, can create a loyal customer base, simply by letting them know what is on offer. Agents that offer travelers something more than just a commoditized product will win their attention and their loyalty while creating a buzz around their brand.
Travel remains one of the most emotive purchase decisions that people will ever make, by taking advantage of wider technology trends and ensuring the traveler is kept at the heart of every sale, retail travel agencies will continue to be well-placed to help travelers make more memorable journeys.
At Amadeus, we’re committed to creating these journeys hand-in-hand with agencies around the globe. As a testament to this, we recently won the Best Technology Provider at the Travel Weekly Globe Awards. A huge thanks to our customers, partners and everyone who voted for us – the wonderful consolidators, tour operators and travel agents throughout the UK. In this past year we’ve been brave and made changes that we needed to make. We’re always investing in new ideas and will continue to support our partners and customers to do so as well.