Travel firms will be told to rid themselves of their technology “comfort blankets” that dictate how they present themselves to their customers at next week’s Travel Technology Europe show.
The two-day trade show at Olympia, London, will see the launch of the Travolution 2016 Innovation Report which analyses UK travel sector spend on technology.
The report’s findings remain under wraps, but they will show a significant increase in spend on software by travel agents.
Technology sector analysts say this is being driven by the rise of mobile and more agile Service as a Software (SaaS) solutions now available to travel firms looking to dispense with legacy tech.
Andrew Nicholson, director of business development at French technology supplier Orchestra, said that for too long the way travel firms present themselves online has been dictated by their tech provider.
“Today there’s a need to be difference. In order to be able to offer some knowledge or service-based solutions, you need a uniqueness about what your proposition is.
“Go back five years and if you were smart enough you could look at almost all UK travel websites and the customer journey and pretty much work out who their technology provider was.
“Consumers want a little bit of inspiration, they wants something that provokes a conversation about what they want to do and where they want to go.”
Nicholson, who will join a panel at TTE next week to discuss the findings of the Innovation Report, said firms need to be brave enough to challenge their existing tech suppliers.
“They have this security blanket of their existing technology,” he said. “It’s about being brave enough to jump into this new world of adaptive technology.”
Orchestra, which works with the likes of Groupon and VeryChic in the UK and Opodo, lastminute.com and Vente-Privee on the continent, has been targeting the UK for over a year.
Nicholson, formerly managing director of Amadeus’s leisure B2B tech arm Traveltainment, said having more technology providers available is a good thing for travel firms.
“New entrants should be welcomed as a challenge to existing providers,” he said. “Firms should be asking themselves what their current provider is offering them or they will be stuck with legacy.”
Nicholson said the key for modern travel firms was to automate where it makes sense to free up their human resources to work on more worthwhile tasks.
“It’s all about having more focussed value for money staff rather than just number crunchers or keyboard jockeys,” said Nicholson.
Larger travel firms are expected to find it most difficult to move off legacy systems, but Nicholson believes smaller firms can do so and do not necessarily have to sacrifice volume for specialisation.
“It used to be that you had to be either niche or a volume player to grow and survive. I do not necessarily think it all about being niche or volume.
“It’s about being smart about what you are offering your customers. Travel businesses should be on a technology platform that enables them to do that , not a platform that restricts them.”
The 2016 Travolution Innovation Report will be launched at 2.30pm on Wednesday February 24 during a session in the Innovate theatre at Travel Technology Europe.