Editor's Blog

Time to deliver holistic experiences
Wed 19 Sep, 2018 at 12:00 am

It is now understood that travel tech professionals need to collaborate to provide holistic customer experiences. Shifting consumer behaviour, distribution evolution and the changing dynamics within direct and indirect sales channels and the digital transformation are under the spotlight. These issues are becoming increasingly prevalent throughout the Indian travel industry, which continues to evolve, driven by high adaptation of the latest technologies and significant growth in the online space. The Indian meetings industry has evolved much more rapidly in its adoption of new technology to boost the standards of performance and make meetings more user-friendly, thereby inducing greater affinity and loyalty among meeting clients.

Three main global trends that are transforming the future of travel including shifting customer behaviour, distribution evolution and the changing dynamics within direct and indirect sales channels and the transformation that India has undergone in its digital landscape in catering to travel industry clientele. Much of this new adaptability has been experimented with already and the Indian industry is allowing the dust to settle over an often uneven playing field before it firms up on the most effective methodology and most profitable options.

One of the first issues is that of fragmentation during the customer experience. Industry stakeholders – providers, intermediaries and sellers – need to work together to complement each other’s roles and address the industry changes collectively. We all need to recognise how data can be used intelligently across the sector to achieve personalisation and how to recruit emerging technologies to improve the traveller experience. We need to work towards a less fragmented travel ecosystem.

With respect to customer expectations, I believe that it is no secret that today’s travellers want an optimal holistic experience. They are accustomed to personalised offerings and services from other industries and expect a similar level of personalisation, experience and flexibility. Consider Netflix – approximately 75 per cent of what people watch is based on recommendation algorithms.  An Indian industry survey showed that 46 per cent of the Indian travellers are willing to be loyal to a brand if they provide them with personalised offers.

Mobile is also key to capturing people’s loyalty and winning the consumer game. Travel suppliers need to deploy advanced mobile and marketing strategies to serve the tech-savvy traveller, who expects to search and book on mobile. Travel players should be able to provide and offer travellers precisely what they want and when they want it, at every step of their trip on the device they choose!

The shift in consumer expectation is changing the landscape of travel distribution. Travel suppliers are increasingly looking for ways to differentiate their offerings, looking to market to travellers in new ways to maximise their revenues.  New standards, such as New Distribution Capability (NDC), are becoming increasingly adopted by airlines experimenting with their distribution strategies.

A broad portfolio of retailing, distribution, fulfilment and data and analytic solutions, coupled with decision science allows one to take NDC to a new altitude. For example, if an airline can determine that a shopper is interested in buying ancillaries like Wifi or a beverage, this presents an opportunity to bundle ancillaries and sell them in a way that otherwise might not be available. This is a vision for evolving technology to benefit both travellers and airline customers. The same vision, implanted in any aspect of the tourism industry, can achieve comprehensive results, seamlessly.

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