In 2015 we saw the dawn of the ‘Age of Traveller Power’, where the connected traveller sits squarely at the top of the travel food chain, wielding abundant influence and with access to a world of information.
For the travel industry, the cat has truly been thrown among the pigeons. Travel providers who traditionally held all the cards when it came to choice and expertise now need to work harder than ever before to remain relevant.
Delivering unique and professional service to the traveller has always been the cornerstone of success: critical to earning loyalty and hence customer lifetime value. However, in a brave new world of the 8.25 second attention span , travellers are more willing to abandon brand fidelity for whoever gives them their best option in the ‘now’.
Here’s where an overused buzzword comes in to play: personalisation. Developing deep customer intimacy and technology to present offers that match travellers’ unexpressed needs instantaneously is the Holy Grail. However, the risk is that getting the balance wrong can lead to poor personalisation, leaving travellers frustrated and dissatisfied.
So what does this mean for 2016? I believe the call to action is clear: the industry must use the insights gained in the Age of Traveller Power to reconnect with customers. To do this we need to get back to the basics and recapture what has been forgotten about the true essence of retailing. Let’s call it ‘Power Retailing’, where the most suitable and appropriate offers and services are delivered to the traveller with minimum hassle.
This is where technology plays an important role, allowing retailers in the industry to capture relevant information and create personalised, inspiring offers that will convert traffic into a loyal customer base, regardless of channel. Amadeus is making great strides in this space.
And mobile needs to be at the heart of this – not just as a channel afterthought. After all, with only 42% of travellers’ spend taking place before departure , the remaining 58% is a treasure chest begging to be unlocked – and there is no better way to reach the ‘always connected’ traveller than through mobile.
Indeed, mobile is the space where disruption and innovation is thriving, with 2015 seeing the emergence of a burgeoning travel app developer community. And one thing that seems certain is that where the Age of Traveller Power is where everyONE is connected, the blossoming Internet-of-Things (IoT) will mean soon it’s everyTHING.
Can the travel agent remain relevant in a landscape that is in constant upheaval from disruption and innovation? Without a doubt, yes. And the key to their success will be specialisation. Be it a subject matter, destination, niche or even a specific traveller tribe – it’s about delivering real value through deep knowledge and a unique proposition that no machine-based algorithm can beat. Loyalty can only be earned by consistently being the best at something.
Amadeus is already working together with every part of the travel industry – from airlines to travel agents, hotels, rail companies, airports and travel start-ups – to enable them to become ‘Power Retailers’. We continue to help them stay connected with the traveller across the entire end-to-end travel experience; and to thrive in the Age of Traveller Power… and beyond.