Travel marketplaces, Gen Z, and chat bots are just a few of the hot topics at the Amadeus Online Connect 2016 event. What unites all three is that many of our customers and speakers agree that this is what the future of online travel looks like. This future needs to revolve around predicting what travellers want and need – and the only way to do that effectively, is to work together.
The theme of the event is: Show me the Value! Merchandise, Accelerate, Monetise. But the conversation goes far beyond this and also looks at trust, cooperation and the division of labour between IT service providers and online travel providers. How can the balance be maintained between customer experience and service on the one hand, and the increasingly complex IT infrastructure required?
The changes we are seeing and the changes we are predicting are, to say the least, impressive. Sébastien Gibergues, Head of the Leisure & Online Travel at Amadeus, introduced Amadeus’ new research paper entitled ‘Online Travel 2020: Expand, Evolve or Expire’ that outlines four scenarios of what the future of online travel could look like.
Jerry Hu, Vice President of Alibaba Group, shared with us that the power of its ecosystem is comes from the strategic partnerships built along the way. “Together, we achieve more”, he said. He did make clear for all of the OTA customers in the room that the biggest difference between Alibaba as a travel marketplace and the OTA’s is that Alibaba doesn’t do business – it enables its merchants to do business.
We learnt from Christian Busch, Associate Director of London School of Economics’ Innovation and Co-Creation Lab, that generation Z spends 3.5 hours daily in chats. They are, so to speak, born digital. Will this generation make purchases in these chats or even book a flight? There’s no doubt about it.
An important takeaway from Amadeus Online Connect 2016 is that all online travel market players have to strengthen their investments and really focus on the customer side to create a smooth and unforgettable travel experience – from booking right through to the service provided before, during, and after the trip. As Alexander Trieb, Managing Director of Travel Audience, said, “Knowing your customers is cool, predicting what travellers need, want and will do before they even do it, is even cooler”. This area is the core of the Travel Audience business.
Customer focus is key – and this is what we hope all participants take away with them. This focus is not only sensible, but also feasible if and when the right partners come together.