Friday, February 3, 2023

Industry leaders to focus tech spend on the traveler

Industry bosses are prioritizing their technology spend around making things easier for the traveler, according to the WTM Industry Report.

Nearly half of the sample – made up of 250 senior execs from around the globe given the option of multiple responses – identified “the customer journey” as a priority.

The customer journey is an umbrella term which the traveler’s end-to-end experience. The customer journey begins at the inspiration stage, includes the post-booking pre-departure period, culminating with the in-destination experience.

Execs have a range of technology options to help travelers at each of the touchpoints on their journey. For example, during the post-booking pre-departure stage travel companies can use technology to engage with the traveller. This gives them the opportunity to improve their service while also generating up sell and cross-sell opportunities.

Some respondents were more specific in their response, with over a third of the sample identifying data and analytics as a priority. Data and analytics can help travel companies improve the customer journey, but the insights gleaned from across an enterprise can improve efficiency across a number of functions. As more companies embrace machine learning and artificial intelligence to help them unlock insights, data and analytics can help travel companies to find new revenue streams while improving the experience for the traveler.

Payments were specified by one-in-five respondents. There has been a lot of interest in both consumer and supplier payments over the past few years, and the relatively low response rate would suggest that most travel companies have already prioritized this area of the business and that improvements are ongoing.

Payment gateways, for example, allow a travel company to accept a range of options for travelers to pay for their trip, while innovations such as virtual credit cards and blockchain are easing the payment flows between suppliers and operators.

Elsewhere, over a third of businesses are turning their attention to improving back-office processes through technology. As restrictions are lifted, many travel companies are having to deal with the pent-up demand with fewer staff. Recruiting replacements for people who were let go during the lockdowns and restrictions is a long-term challenge. Using technology to automate back-office processes is one way that travel companies can close the gap by freeing up staff from routine administrative tasks and allowing them to concentrate their skills on adding value.

Exhibition Director of World Travel Market, Juliette Losardo said: “Our snapshot of global executives reaffirmed a well discussed concept – that technology helps travel firms improve their customer experiences, enhance internal processes and in turn boost their bottom line.

“We have an exciting line-up of tech-focused panels and keynotes across the four stages at this year’s World Travel Market, and an impressive roster of established and start-up tech companies exhibiting. The travel industry is facing a critical moment where many businesses will be forced to decide which area of the business needs the biggest technology investment to define its position within the future of travel.”

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