By Mittu Sridhara, Tui Travel, chief information officer
It is clear that recent years have seen an explosion in technology and web capability.
Everywhere, consumers are connected via mobile or tablet to an unlimited number of companies vying for their attention and more importantly, their custom.
Customers’ expectations and demands have changed as a result and the culture is one of growing transparency and loyalty.
As a business, it is our response to this explosion that matters – technology provides an opportunity for every business.
By 2015 two billion people will own a smart phone. That is a very powerful computer at the hands of nearly a third of the of the world’s population.
The trick for businesses is to marry the physical and digital world not only for customers, but also for colleagues.
Understanding the needs, wants and expectations of customers is crucial, but while many try to meet them, our priority should be to exceed them.
We should aim to spoil a customer, to surprise them with the product, and continually provide a seamless interaction with them at every touch point throughout the customer journey.
This is how businesses will secure customer loyalty.
Thinking from inside the organisation outwards, connecting colleagues digitally, not only to other colleagues but also to customers and partners is key for us in improving our customers experiences.
We believe that connecting the physical and digital world in this way will ultimately drive greater value.
To this end we are using a number of ESN’s within the Group as one of our communications channels.
Our goal is to have our 55,000 colleagues spread across the globe able to communicate and share instantly not only to help them in their jobs but also to bring them closer to the customer.
Digital change happens rapidly and for all of us it is important that we constantly seek to modernise and adapt and, those who don’t will get left behind.
The utilisation of technology is an ongoing evolution of ideas. For us it is the constant innovation to surprise and delight our customers.
For example, we are in the process of developing the Tui Digital Assistant into more than just a holiday app, developing it into an engaging concierge service that will be able to offer the holidaying customer whatever they want, whenever they want, and however they want it.
This further builds this customer relationship, now not only engaging with them, but helping them whenever, however they need.
Marrying the physical with the digital is vital in providing the best possible customer experience.
Crucially, it’s about offering a technological service that reflects the warmth of our product, and supports it.
It’s about using technologies to adapt, to change, and to grow, and it’s about creating solutions to best position us for the world that we are in and ensuring we are ready for the world that is to come.
Interview with Mittu Sridhara – view video below
Q. How are advances in technology ensuring a large corporate like Tui Travel with business critical legacy retailing and tour operator systems remains competitive against web-based rivals given the explosion of look-to-book ratios.
Q. What plans does Tui have to make sure its Thomson and First Choice apps are among the ones consumers choose to download and interact with regularly given the limited number of travel apps the average consumer will install on their devices.
Q. Technology and retailing on the web has been blamed for systematically undermining the margins travel firms are able to make. Is this a fair assessment and are their technology-based approaches that are helping firms to increase their earning power?