New entrants are creating the need for significant innovation and heightened differentiation. Established players in managed travel are transforming themselves strategically and operationally in a bid to compete effectively in a digital marketplace. Amadeus recently published a paper: Managed Travel 3.0 addressing both the technology trends that are shaping traveller and industry alikel. Read on to discover how managed travel will lead the way of railways.
It's all about the service and the traveller
Rail plays an extraordinary part in the managed travel process. However, the question is: is rail still managed as a separate entity, forever a specialist’s dream, continuing to be a travel consultant’s nightmare, or is it becoming the norm to book rail as an integrated travel component? The Amadeus Whitepaper Managed Travel 3.0 a says is that managed travel was never about the booking. It is, however, about the service and is set to become even more about the traveller.
Let’s take a look at the 6 highlights from the report and how they affect the traveller and the travel experience;
1. Mobile is leading the way
With over 70% of the world predicted to have a smartphone by 2020, mobile is a must for businesses to keep in touch with customers. In Managed Travel 3.0, the corporate citizen will grasp their travel destiny, using mobile, merchandising and personalisation to interact, transact and make their requirements known.
What does this mean for railways? They may not have a choice if they are to compete for traveller spend. They will have to invest if they want to retain control over and influence the traveller in the new hyper-personal and contextual, connected world of smartphones and travel.
This is where railways can help themselves by continuing to work with travel agencies as they are the first to know a traveller’s itinerary, they know the traveller profile, what their travel history is and what the policy allows the agency to do. In Managed Travel 3.0, there is a golden opportunity to keep the traveller engaged in an end-to-end app experience which means a better integration of rail throughout the travel process.
2. New content, more choice
The sharing economy players in particular, such as Airbnb and Uber, have been keeping the naysayers busy as they make managed travel their new playground. According to the Phocuswright Traveller Technology Survey 2014, 13% of business travellers used a car or taxi service hailed through the likes of Uber, with 7% using a ride-sharing service; and 1 in 5 business travellers used a room rental service in 2014.
So while these shared economy players raise a number of questions around security, the duty of care, payment and regulation, they are here to stay and we expect them to disrupt the managed travel marketplace.
3. Personalising the travel experienceBusiness intelligence is helping travel providers better understand their customers and therefore provide a tailored experience. Customisation is already influencing the world of today’s travel and with the wealth of data available today, it is no longer acceptable not to know your traveller. Railways are in need of efficient systems in order to capture customer data to offer personalised and predictive options to their travellers.
Therefore, data science and the ability to extract and make intelligent use of data are key in today’s world. Understanding past behaviour, traveller profiles and traveller preferences are central to creating a relevant, contextual and even predictive experience.
4. Merchandising: right price, right time to the right person
Recommendations, interaction and self-service, together with a positive user experience, are all elements of the retailing and merchandising worlds that will enter managed travel. Railways will need to provide better revenue management in order to meet ever increasing demand to provide the right price at the right time to the right person, thus encouraging new travellers and providing loyal customers with an incentive to come back. A merchant model could also be a solution to the long, slow and costly accreditation process and help internationalise rail sales on a grander scale.
5. Complex travel successful with digital payments
When it comes to the growth of non-traditional content, the 3.0 traveller needs more than a flight. There is a need for a hotel, a taxi, a rail segment, dinner at a restaurant and many other items for which there is no agreed process for payment. Currently, most travellers pay out of their own account and reclaim expenses. But as more content becomes bookable through electronic platforms, there is an opportunity for payment to become an automated part of the process, executed directly by the corporation or the TMC. With Amadeus Rail Display leading the way to improve the rail booking experience for the travel agent, there is an opening for the payment model to be flexible for the travel agency and the railway.
6. Virtual becomes reality
Applications such as Apple’s Siri will become increasingly intelligent and provide the business traveller with a virtual assistant that can not only predict the next stage in travel but also recommend alternatives and side activities.
The Internet of Things (IoT) will also affect travellers. With everything connected – the goods we have, the objects we use, machines, buildings, cars, even entire cities will be connected through sensors – the possibilities are infinite. For example, this technology will allow railway stations and hotels to send passengers/guests personalised information or offers based on time and location. It will allow taxis and shuttles to pick up passengers for transfers at exactly the right moment by using traffic reports, travel delays and weather conditions to calculate the fastest and most cost efficient route.
With all this in mind, will rail play catch up, lag behind or accelerate at high speed and embrace technology like never before, leaping into the travel ecosystem as a fully integrated travel component? Only time will tell, and with the suite of technology solutions for travel agencies, Amadeus Rail is ensuring that the travel agency can be a step ahead, by providing a fully integrated innovative solution.
Read more about the solutions that Amadeus has for Travel Agencies:Read more