by Marion Mesnage, Head of Nexwave, Amadeus.
This year represents an inflection point for the travel industry. We are at a critical stage to rethink and rebuild, as well as understand what the key drivers of change are, and what we can learn to help us achieve this.
To help gather these insights, we wanted to not only draw on our own research and data but also to hear from other key voices in the travel industry on the drivers of change.
We spoke to a range of influential people, including Tony Wheeler the founder of Lonely Planet, Arjan Dijk the chief marketing officer at Booking.com and Emily Weiss, managing director and global travel industry leader at Accenture.
In our recent Rebuilding travel together report, we pulled together these insights to explore the changes in traveller behaviour that will shape the sector going forward, how the industry can adapt and the role of technology to support this.
Changing traveller behaviour
COVID-19 has been a black swan for travel but there is opportunity in this challenging environment.
The challenges of the pandemic have resulted in an acceleration in the modernisation of the traveller experience for the long term. The opportunity now lies in understanding the requirements and expectations from travellers.
The appetite to travel is still strong, with our latest survey highlighting 41% of travellers expect to book international travel within six weeks of restrictions lifting.
This encouraging data highlights the need to understand what travellers expect from their journey in the new world. One of the key trends from our report was the rise of the informed traveller.
In today’s travel environment travellers want greater clarity and consistency when it comes to procedures, and travel providers need to respond accordingly to provide the solutions and information required.
We are also seeing the potential rise in multi-generational travel. There was consensus among those interviewed that the economic impact of the pandemic would be felt most acutely among younger generations.
Therefore, this could drive interest in multigenerational travel, as Generation Z and Millennials holiday with wider family members to help reduce costs but still enjoy the experience.
How can industry adapt and respond?
Industry fragmentation is not a new concept for travel; however, the crisis has highlighted the urgent need to address this as the lack of integration has truly been exposed.
As Tony Wheeler commented in our report, there is likely going to be a rise in health and immunity certificates, meaning this a crucial area where collaboration will be essential as different segments of travel need to speak to each other and enable a unified approach to work across borders.
The other key area of renewed focus has been around the connected end to-end traveller journey.
To create seamless experiences, today’s traveller requires all industry segments to work together. A company on its own does not have all the answers, meaning co-creation, and co-innovation will become more prevalent as industry recovery becomes the priority.
Sustainability is also a key driver of change for the future of travel that has been accelerated by the pandemic.
The consensus among contributors to our report is that the travel industry that emerges over the next few years will be more sustainable and greener.
The combination of consumer pressure for more sustainable options, economic incentives and acceleration of innovation to improve operations will hopefully be enough to drive us forward to a more sustainable way of travel.
What is the role of technology?
Technology plays a central role in the delivery of the future travel experience. More than four in five (84%) believe that technology would increase their confidence to travel in the next 12 months.
Travel companies — providers and sellers — must adopt solutions that can help deliver trusted information to travellers, enable more contactless and touchless experiences and enhance the enjoyment of travel.
Rohit Talwar, CEO of Fast Future, believes over the next five years we will see a much more integrated, personalised and transparent passenger experience.
Technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, 5G and the Internet of Things continue to deliver the technology for a seamless and dynamically managed traveller journey.
Contactless and touchless technology is at the forefront of strategies to help us rebuild travel and get back on a path of recovery.
These technologies must not only help promote safer and more hygienic travel but also improve operational efficiency. Biometric, self-service and auto-bag drop innovations help the industry to adapt to the traveller needs in today’s new environment.
It is clear from the insights which have emerged from our research that there are key actions to be taken to help the travel industry adapt to travellers needs and how best to accelerate the adoption of available technology.
Now is the opportunity for the industry to address many of the stress points in the traveller journey that have persisted for many years. It is only through collaboration across all segments that we will be able to achieve this and rebuild travel for the future we want.
To learn more, you can check the full study here.