The pace of technological change is poised to accelerate, the manager of TUI Group’s Palma-based Innovation Lab warned WTM delegates.
Chris Carmichael said the world was only halfway through a technological revolution and it was something a company like TUI was preparing for.
He said the TUI Travel merger with German parent Tui AG last year was a unique opportunity to build a new “company within a company”. The Innovation Lab was established in April and Carmichael reports directly into the director for customer service.
“The biggest thing we are doing is bringing in passion for customer service. Typically innovation in a company is something that the IT team does. Customer experience is first for us. We like profitability but we are really focuses on the customer right now. We need to meet customer expectations. We are looking at different business models and what’s happening outside and looking at how we bring that in to the industry.”
Carmichael said travel remained very paper-based and yet virtually all customers have smartphones and use them while on holiday. “There is a huge opportunity to simplify the experience to make life better for us and for our customers. We are not going to do this overnight because we work [in destinations] round the world.”
Carmichael predicted things were “going to go crazy” with technology. “This is only the beginning. It’s really going to accelerate over the next few years so this is something we need to prepare for.”
TUI opted to base its Innovation Lab in Majorca because the destination had everything in the tourist industry within a couple of miles of the office, so it is the perfect testing ground.
TUI has projects in the Mediterranean, Egypt and Mexico and it has mapped out how consumers feel during their entire experience to provide a focus for what it is doing. “Being such a big company there’s a huge amount of opportunity but also big challenges. Getting product to work in all locations is a big challenge for us.”