Travel firms were advised to move away from inflexible on-site technology stacks that prevent them from putting the customer at the heart of their business.
Speaking in a session on delivering an exceptional traveller experience, Shane Deacon, director of sales for Kaptio, told WTM delegates that travel firms often have multiple systems.
He said these systems often do not configure together and operate in silos meaning firms miss out on the opportunity to deliver a personalised experience to clients.
Deacon said adopting a cloud-based platform approach was the answer. “If you look at the [travel] supply chain its very fragmented.
“You will perhaps have many different systems, typically four or five. Some customers have 40 to 50 to manage. Forward thinking players have a platform approach so they can work collaboratively.
“If you can consolidate them [systems] down you will get a lot of benefit. When you have these different silos, apart from not being able to give your customers a wonderful experience there are knock on impacts like prices might have to be uploaded manually and you get data duplication.
“The old on-site systems tend to be inflexible. There are platforms out there which address all these problems and by using them gives your customers that wonderful experience.
“And you can configure platforms so the align to your business. You can get real time information to suppliers, Destination Management Companies and partners by adopting a platform approach.
“The old way is to have the reservation system has the master record at the centre, but perhaps that’s not connected to other systems like email and Customer Relationship Management.
“Perhaps marketing is done ad hoc, perhaps you don’t have any marketing software. If you can cross the chasm then you enter an environment where the customer is at the centre of everything.”
Deacon said offering this better experience to customers means they will come back to the brand next time, and firms will be able to benefit from better management reporting and data.
“I would encourage toy to look at some of these platforms that allow you to put the customer first and reap other benefits as well,” he said.
Kaptio is a relatively new travel systems provider from Iceland. It has partnered with Salesforce which shared the stage with it at WTM.
Ricardo Gomez-Ulmke, Salesforce senior consultant, said the challenge for firms is to do personalisation at scale in a fast and efficient manner.
“Consumers today live in a connected world, in their cars, with in-home connectivity. Soon you will be able to ask Alexa what sort of holiday can it recommend.
“It’s all about information finding us. If this is our expectation as consumers leading brands need to implement some of these technologies and concepts in order to keep customers engaged.
“There is disruption coming from outside travel – a couple of years ago Airbnb was a start-up and today they are getting much more into creating trips, not just offering a bed for the night.
“The Tui chief executive betting in blockchain. He is saying by using blockchain to put inventory on a leger for third parties I’m going to disrupt this business in its entirety.
“It’s definitely something to watch and think about the business models this will enable in the future and how you will fit in and profit from that.
“Expedia is saying voice search will be the next disruptor. The content you create and present needs to be engaging, it needs to be effortless to communicate it, needs to be personalised and relevant.”
Gomez-Ulmke cited KLM’s Facebook Messenger interface as a leading example of effortless customer engagement.
Salesforce showcased the work of Secret Escapes as an example of the benefits of adopting a modern platform-based approach to technology in travel.