By Mark van der Linden, Dropbox UK Country Manager
It’s a brave new world for the travel industry. Budgets are tight and competition is fierce.
But tourism is still big business. Even bigger than ever. Travel and tourism contributed £187.7 billion to the UK’s GDP in 2014.
That figure is forecast to rise but consumer demands are changing.
Increasingly, people are looking to new platforms to book their holidays. Today, 87% of travellers do the bulk of their travel planning online where they’re able to search for the best offers and most authentic experiences.
The rise of DIY travel has taken the industry by storm with dedicated ‘not-for-tourist’ travel sites and companies like Airbnb fueling this trend. Expedia has noted that two thirds of the total cost of a trip (including excursions and meals etc) now occur in destination.
The challenge for the industry is to stay relevant by tapping into these new opportunities.
It’s why we’ve seen a shift by many travel businesses towards providing services at every stage of the customer journey, rather than just at the point of booking.
With one of the largest external supplier networks of any industry, travel executives have sensed an opportunity to work together to deliver these highly personalised experiences at competitive prices.
This cross-industry collaboration is exciting for consumers but can be challenging to execute, so it is essential that business have the right tools and technology available to deliver creative solutions quickly.
The transformation has meant a conscious move towards digital solutions that help businesses to stay close to customer needs. According to a recent industry report, travel IT spend increased by 12% in 2015 and this is expected to rise this year.
So what does this look like in practice?
Kayak is a travel website co-founded by Expedia, Travelocity, and Orbitz. Fresh to market, its aim is to provide one convenient place for consumers to get the widest range of choices in flights, hotels, rental cars, and other travel deals.
With a vast inventory of continually changing travel options and opportunities, the content on Kayak’s website is in perpetual motion.
Dozens of employees work to keep the site up-to-date so that users have the most seamless experience possible. Product designs are updated regularly and pass through countless hands on the team at all three organisations.
With a growing number of suppliers to work with and customers to serve, Kayak knew they needed technology that would help them to collaborate seamlessly.
My team is now helping the business to improve internal communications and workflow, file protection and to create more fluid processes across all Kayak’s operations, whether it is sales and marketing, website engineering or quality assurance.
In a competitive online environment, our technology has been key to ensuring Kayak can build successful relationships with partners, and crucially, collaborate with them to offer the best deals for customers.
Development specifications, design assets and materials for marketing and advertisements are housed on Dropbox Business so all parties can work on them in real-time. It’s a key part of internal and external communications for the business – it ensures everyone is in touch and on their game in what is an incredibly competitive environment.
The challenge ahead
This multi-billion pound industry has been built on delivering excellent service to customers for many years.
While there’s no doubt that technology and the rise of DIY travel has ripped up the script, it’s also clear from the businesses I speak to that the industry is very much up to the challenge.
Businesses are naturally gravitating towards simple solutions that help them to be more innovative.
The challenge now is for travel business leaders to think creatively about how they can use technology to collaborate internally and externally with new partners on the most unique, innovative and authentic experiences for customers.