The "Amateur Expert Traveller" whitepaper: Amadeus commissioned an extensive programme of research into developments within the global travel industry. The conclusions* drawn from an expert panel of senior opinion-leaders, all directors and executives from the world of travel, provide an informed insight into emerging trends which will significantly impact the way we do business in the future.
Not so long ago, we used a device to transmit and receive messages over long distances - the telegraph. Now we attend virtual reality meetings thanks to TelePresence! This evolution shows the speed at which technological innovation is shaping the way we communicate with and sell to customers.
The research paper reveals 3 broad trends which are influencing the travel industry today: increasingly knowledgeable customers, a more technological trip experience and the growth of ‘niche’ travel. In addition, the pace of change has been accelerated by the global economic downturn which has put a premium on finding the best product at the best price without compromising on service, and the emergence of a new breed of affluent travellers from eastern countries (less affected by the recession) who seek a travel experience catered to their own cultural needs and demands.
Knowledge: the internet has put extensive interactive content in front of the traveller (user reviews, social networking, Web 2.0). With more knowledge, consumers are becoming experts in travel and are empowered to make additional demands on travel suppliers.
Technology: has changed the way we book travel. A dramatic shift to online and mobile travel fulfilment is forcing providers to change the way they interact with customers.
Niche Travel: travel companies must look for opportunities to sell specialised travel services in new ways, to new customers in order to protect revenues. In car rental alone, we have seen a new business model emerge: ‘Zipcar’ lets clients pick up their own car from the street thanks to GPS technology which locates each available car and directs the client to its position.
What can you do to build and retain brand loyalty?
Provide a fast yet smooth booking experience through all your distribution channels (direct and indirect).
Deliver comprehensive information which is easy to access and filter.
Be price competitive but excel in service expectations.
Ensure consistency between brand promise and delivery.
In short, travel suppliers must work harder than ever to improve the user experience before, during and after the trip: if they liked it they will tell others - if they didn’t, they will tell even more!