How has technology impacted the travel agency world?
Technology in the form of the internet, software, hardware and communications has made the lives of travel agencies a lot easier for every type of business. Technology has brought efficiencies, automation, customer knowledge, business opportunities to fill a variety of needs, fast development of new products or services, traveller knowledge and space for new entrants.
Past technology needs to be present as a history lesson for the future, now that the world is changing more rapidly than ever, nothing has changed in comparison to what will happen in the next 20 years, and to address business opportunities, travel agencies need to maintain the rhythm of change and anticipate what will come in the future of the new “Era of Infostrialisation”, where society and economic change is transforming us from an industrial society into an information society.
Information is now available to everybody, but relevant and structured information, mixed with the intelligence and service behind it, is where added value needs to be brought to the traveller based on very specific needs and how those travelers want to see it, buy it and experience it. Technology as a driver of change will bring internet everywhere (in people & in things), mobility, monitoring of personal/social activity and especially: predictive analytics that will impact with new rupture opportunities and business models.
What does a more connected travel future mean to the travel agency industry, specifically to traditional agencies, business agencies and online travel agencies?
The travel industry is moving quickly from traffic patterns to a web/mobile history where data is recorded, stored and analysed to address individual traveller needs. The connected travel future will be based on a combination of the following FOUR S’s:
Structured Data: not only the capture of the data (video, voice…) across the globe from multiple sources (content, transactions, social media, mobile devices, sensors) but also to put the right structured data in place to be blended for business purposes. Also having the capability of managing non structured data in the same way.
Speed: the value of the relevant data has to come in real time. The speed of accessing what the customer needs is key, from different angles: instant-real time data, instant answer, instant buy, instant social…instant everything!
Service: a differentiated strategic service focus to improve the customer experience - from digital self-service to human all-service and the economic value added behind such chain.
Sage: deeper knowledge of customers will be essential through analytics, usage of customer predictive analytics and solutions on merchandise optimization to maximize growth, profitability and customer experience.
Technology, which is transforming our professional and personal lives, will be the heart of change in blending these FOUR S’s to achieve not only a connected travel future but a fully interconnected travel world beyond the different players, and in which “Next Gen-Tech Travel Agencies” will keep playing an important role.
Time savings and value added service for the traveler will be keys to the future of
travel agencies on (1) the whole travel process from planning to sharing experiences, that time saving will be on the planning, on the search, on the booking, during the trip, on expense management, on the post-trip experience sharing, etc. and on (2) Matching traveler needs based on profile and predictive analytics with an intelligent offer to be sent in advance of a traveller’s need.
In order to provide such value to the traveller, it will require a combination of provider supplied instant data (structured and non-structured), customer data, customer predictive analytics, which will allow unique and differentiated service to maximize customer experience and loyalty. Technology will be key to combine the necessary addressed elements to build a platform and maximize reach to the traveller anywhere, anytime, through any device.