The travel industry is at a number of interesting turning points, as technology, society, and politics are amalgamating together to create an interesting set of circumstances in the UK and beyond. What some will view as challenges, others will see as opportunities depending on how and where they operate.
This year’s Travolution Summit in London sought to bring many of the industry’s leading thinkers together to discuss what lies ahead for key themes such as payments, marketing, personalisation, and the customer’s experience. These are five of the key topics that were peppered throughout the talks, as well as some insight from the experts speaking on various panels during the day.
How will Brexit affect travel?
In our guide on key travel trends a few months back, we received and shared some very frank thoughts on the impacts that Brexit may have on travel. At this point, much of it is conjecture as we wait for final confirmation of the details surrounding the UK’s exit from the EU. This was a hotly contested topic among many delegates, as discussions raged about what you currently can plan for, and what is out of our hands for the time being.
“A lot of uncertainty still surrounds what will happen after Brexit. In my opinion, we’re likely to see fluctuations in consumer confidence as people may be hesitant about spending. As a result of this, I expect a late booking market next Summer but after then it’s too early to predict much. We have no concern from clients about tech spending in the long term, as most ultimately feel that the market is quite resilient and they still need to be looking forward."
Cressida Sergeant | Senior Vice President EMEA, Traveltek
Who owns the customer?
Nobody. But what does that mean?
It means that we can only drive the customer journey and experience as far as the customer will let us. Attempting to bully or push them through a process that they are resistant to is only going to create friction, which could limit their willingness to travel with you in future, or even complete a booking.
"We need to think beyond outdated views of consumer ‘ownership’. Today, people crave seamless door to door journeys and worry free experiences. Whether researching, booking, purchasing or taking a trip, people expect simplicity and convenience - whether at home or away and ensuring that we can meet those needs requires a collaborative effort. Stakeholders across the tourism industry need to come together, sharing the right combination of expertise, technology and data insights to make the industry more agile and more resilient. By working together we have the power to help the sector adapt to challenges such as over-tourism, cyber security and cross-border travel.”
Kevin White | Vice President Global Strategy & Business Development, Mastercard
What challenges does mobile solve?
It’s never been more simple to pick up your phone, and put it down with flights and a hotel booked. Yet as things stand, only 42% of UK smartphone users consider booking flights and hotels on mobile to be an easy process.1 There may be frustrations here that need to be fixed and addressed. An honest appraisal of what you can and can’t deliver directly over mobile needs to be undertaken, and assess where it’s more beneficial to do things via phone, email, or in person.
“Mobile is consistently growing transactional channel across all markets. Not everything can be solved by it, but a lot of simple products such as flights can be. One of the key elements is how it expands the customer experience with all of the cross-sell activities that could complement the travel experience.”
Francesca Benati | Executive Vice President Online EMEA, Amadeus
Are you wasting your PPC budget?
Many travel providers want to compete on services and avoid a price war where possible, but there’s still no good reason to waste money unnecessarily. A travel customer’s journey can be a complex one with months of research, and their first click to discover your brand may not be the one that delivers the final conversion. Ignoring the nuances of this journey could leave you spending ample amounts on keywords that aren’t actually responsible for bringing new people into the funnel.
“One of the things we have identified with our travel clients is that a lot of can be saved by being clever to reduce PPC spend for terms people would have clicked on anyway. Pay per click spaces on Google take up more space now than they used to and are less obviously signposted as they once were. This means that if you’re advertising on your own brand’s keywords, you may be paying for clicks when people were already looking for you. It is important to run experiments on both position and cost per click to reduce this down to the minimum cost. We've seen savings of 15% in the last year so it's possible!”
Andy Headington | CEO, Adido
How can tech improve the guest experience?
Princess Cruises new Medallion Class ships provide each guest with a medallion that guests use to pay, order services, play games, and navigate the ship. It’s an advancement that is enabled by tech, without tech being at the centre. Instead, they allow staff to maximise their focus on individual customers by using the data on the medallions to deliver a greater level of service to their guests.
This Internet of Things approach can be used in other areas of travel and accommodation to give a more personalised, enjoyable, and efficient approach.
“Some innovations are a direct experience with technology. In others, technology can blend with real world to create new possibilities. This guest centricity enables us to make creative decisions with the guest’s tastes and preferences as the driver. It maximises the experience through personalisation, while reducing the friction created by wasted time.”
Rai Caluori | EVP Fleet Operations, Princess Cruises
Product Marketing Manager Andy has spent years obsessively analysing B2B and B2C digital marketing campaigns and technology. Outside of his family, his main loves are Woking FC, his Xbox and his National Trust membership.