Travel companies that want to drive digital change rather than follow the lead of others must recreate the customer journey, DataArt delegates were told.
Hilary Roberts, Skyscanner’s senior product manager for flights, said simply following others means your company won’t stand out and could lose your customers to rivals.
At the fifth DataArt Question Time event in London, on the theme of ‘digital transformation’, she said: “We obviously care about the customer journey. But if you just look at the journey that travellers already make then you would only continue to provide the same experience.
“I care about what travellers are going to be doing next.”
Roberts said Skyscanner is looking at ways to innovate the user interface of metasearch.
Delegates heard that customers are not loyal to brands in the online age, so will opt for convenience and ease of use.
Dnata’s IT director Adam Gill agreed, and said that travel firms looking to stand out should not “funnel” customers into one way of booking, or taking their journey.
He said: “We should be letting the customer find the map rather than giving the map to the customer. As long as we are trying and learning we are moving forward. There are no rules.”
Joanna Dobson, senior director for UK and Ireland at Carlson Wagonlit Travel, said it was important that travel firms seek feedback from customers so they know how to adapt and where to innovate.
She said: “We used to never hear from our customers until they were back, now we have that relationship with them when they are there. And their expectations are higher.
“Travellers are more in control now. They want to do everything on their phones. So if you can’t find a way of touching those points on a journey, they will do it themselves.
“It helps us understand the difference between the road warrior and the first time traveller, which is essential to offering a persona experience.”