The tourism industry’s centre of gravity is shifting to the east. Last week’s discussions at the World Tourism Forum in Istanbul reiterated the importance of responding to this fundamental change.
During the forum, I was in a panel discussion which touched on the potential of Turkey as the ‘Bosphorus Bridge’ of the tourism industry, connecting Europe to Asia and vice versa. Many emerging markets have already ‘emerged’ and it’s up to travel players to leverage technology to reach out to the massive markets further east, such as China and India.
Turkey has great potential as a regional hub. As the national centenary approaches in 2023, there are ambitious plans to strengthen infrastructure across the whole country, from building the largest airport in the world (by runway capacity), to dozens of new high-speed rail routes. It could also be at the forefront of a more seamless transport system, but there are logistical and foundational challenges. These can be overcome by applying technology on top of a truly interconnected and multimodal passenger transport infrastructure. Seamless technology that Amadeus, with its unique place at the heart of the industry, can offer to enable this future.
Another point made in my speech was the importance of not only understanding ‘who’ is travelling, but ‘why’. Are they travelling for business or leisure? Despite talk of a combined ‘bleisure’, I think this is a grey space. Travel players still need to understand this distinction in order to offer the right services at the right time; travellers behave differently according to who is paying: them or someone else. The most effective way to differentiate is through technology, analysing data with loyalty solutions such as Altéa Corporate Recognition.
But something I hope I articulated clearly was that one thing will not change: the need for the human element in travel – no amount of technology can change that. Travellers want personalised experiences and technology is the enabler that closes the gap between travel players’ limitations and customers’ desires. Amadeus will continue to work with travel industry players in driving the global travel ecosystem forward and to bring those desires to life. I hope the opinion leaders at the World Tourism Forum join us to shape the future of travel.