The COVID-19 crisis has prompted Tui Musement to take a more product-based modular approach to the tech that will power it out of the pandemic
This will be the key message from Fabio Zecchini, co-founder and chief technology officer at Musement TUI Group, at this week’s TravelTech Show.
He is due to speak in a keynote panel session during the two-day virtual event this Tuesday and Wednesday alongside entrepreneur and strategic advisor Johnny Thorsen and president of Sabre Labs Sundar Nurasimhan.
Zecchini said Musement had taken the opportunity of the pandemic to reassess its technology and re-engineer its solutions to provide greater efficiency and automation both for the firm and for its customers.
Services like airport baggage drop, transfer operations, call centre performance and digital retailing of tours and activities have benefitted from investment in systems and artificial intelligence so they operate more digitally, efficiently and sustainably.
“During COVID we have been able to stop a moment a take a look around at different systems and technology in our space and because no one was travelling we have been able to concentrate on the future of our platform.
“We have invested a lot in the digital product. We looked at all processes in the tours and activities industry but also in general across travel to understand where there was some inefficiencies and where things could be automated and improved by tech.
“We continued to hire in to our technology team and onboard new engineers to really review all of our channels across all of our company with the ultimate idea of being a really omni-channel business.”
Zecchini said although much of the development was in direct response to the challenges of the pandemic in terms of health and safety requirements, they will in the long term make the travel experience more frictionless and save customers time.
He said this is happening in Tui, but also across the travel sector as a whole: “The entire travel environment has taken this moment to review different systems and what the customer experience of the future looks like.”
The COVID shut down was also an opportunity for Tui and Musement, the Italian tours and activities sector technology specialist it acquired in September 2018, to complete their technological integration, said Zecchini.
“We are now fully integrated and our teams are merged into one combined team working on projects together and exchanging knowledge and information.
“From a technology point of view we took a moment to design how we wanted to work for the future, and how we want to be attractive to technology talent, engineers, designers, product manager and product owners.
“Product, for us, is digital product. We are refactoring many different pieces of our system into modules and so we have built this team that is standalone, like a start-up, working on areas they have ownership to develop digital product.
“We have redesigned the way we work within our company and this has created great value and this is something new for the future of the travel industry.”
Zecchini said Tui Musement will continue to invest in technology because consumers now have an expectation that travel firms will provide them with the most convenient service, whether digital or face-to-face or a combination, having adopted digital platforms during the pandemic.
“The consumer is expecting this from the industry,” he said. “I think people had become used to inefficiencies that they are not now expecting anymore.
“We needed to understand which processes needed to be automated and optimised and it was important for the group, as it is for the industry, to invest in technology to be ready once the business comes back because the customer is expecting more and more from us.”
Partnerships and integrations in travel have become more important as firms look to share the time and resources needed to create technological solutions rather than build and maintain everything themselves, added Zecchini.
“The difference between the travel industry and other sectors is that it’s not always just about a piece of technology, there’s always some human or operational involvement, especially in the field.
“Partnerships and integration between different technology companies in the travel space will be vital to scale up because it will be difficult to build everything internally. That’s why we partner with different companies.
“It varies on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes it’s important and more efficient to build and develop internally, other times you need to partner with other companies. It’s a matter of being focussed – you cannot do everything, but you want to be the best at what you are doing.”
Partnerships Tui Musement have struck in recent months include with B2C brand like booking.com, Trivago, Eurostar as well as working with Amazon Web Services on its technology and integrating with third party developers like Nezasa.
The panel session ‘The year that product took centre stage: Europe’ is due to be broadcast tomorrow (September 14) at 4pm. Click here to register to attend the event.