Tommy Kolega, CIO, Viadex: Global IT Infrastructure and Deployment Specialists
The ship is ready to sail
We’ve settled in and unpacked our bags. The delights of 2018 beckon all around us. TTE 2018 was a great scene-setter, with much buzz around the major areas of travel and hotel technology, plus marketing technologies for both categories. Viadex were delighted to be in attendance with friends and colleagues from our partners, Tegile.
Much as technology is enabling all players to raise their standards of excellence in delivering tailored customer experiences, it’s also making the competitive environment more intense and demanding than any of us have ever seen. One of the most recurrent areas of conversation at the show, with customers in the travel sector, arose from the sheer abundance of technology choices that the industry needs to contend with, to get the perfect balance between cost and process efficiency, and customer satisfaction.
A frequent concern is that if you make the wrong technology choice and your competitors make the right one, the swing of business away from you and over to them can be almost instantaneous. Once the ship has pulled out of the harbour, you end up standing on the quayside watching it pull away from you, off into the far horizon.
A pre-trend appetizer
Where do the choices start? I suggest that storage must be the core and fundamental consideration moving forward in 2018, if you plan to harness the sort of technologies essential for making sense of the vast amounts of data coming into your business. I wouldn’t even add this to my ‘trends list’ because it’s a pre-trend essential. I outlined the benefits of the Tegile storage platform in a recent blog, ‘DATA ANALYTICS: the passport to competitive differentiation’.
As the year gains pace, I’d suggest checking that your storage is up to the job of dealing with Big Data, advanced data analytics, and the machinations of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Start by assessing what it can do for you right now, and evaluate what you are likely to be needing it to do if you’re to offer consumers the experience they seek in today’s Travel and Tourism world. A robust storage platform is your passport, your boarding pass, your point of departure. Take a look at Tegile, delivering “the ‘speed, efficiency, and scale required to power your data in real time’.
2018 trends in travel and tourism technology
Moving on to the language of leverage for 2018, here are five phrases everyone should know:
- We know exactly what our customers want
– Big Data driven AI/ML
Using data to inform how you guide and facilitate the customer online journey comes with a caveat: don’t make your recommendations intrusive. They should be helpful and relevant; not, as can still be seen on many sites today, overtly commercial and blatantly upselling. Customers find this sort of guided journey a pressure. Every message you deliver should be tonally aligned to holiday choices, if it isn’t, you can lose customers in a click.Predictive analytics with cognitive understanding of what individual preferences, search and purchase patterns (customer behaviours) most commonly emerge/have been historically most in evidence provides a basis for relevant service propositions; what to eat and when, what adventure to go on at what time and which day of your trip, when and where to relax etc. This practice enables you to pre-empt customers’ every wish; proactive, relevant, and delivering perceived added value.“The next few years will see travellers requiring an increasingly personalised service,” stated an article in The Guardian in 2016, “…with companies able to suggest to them customised products on the basis of their profiles and past behaviour. With many travellers already seeking a more customised and “local” experience, truly personalised trips are already beginning to take off. This was dominant thinking in 2016. It frames the competitive advantage now, two years later.
- We make holiday hunting a sheer delight
– Immersive Reality (Augmented & Virtual)
‘Try before you buy’ is now a sound strategy given the maturity of AR and VR. Using these technologies, you can provide mini-experiences of what customers can look forward to before they book. Whilst using such technologies may seem to be an early adopter initiative the practice will gain traction quickly. It enriches the customer experience and instils confidence in customers about their choice. I believe this is a prime example of an initiative that needs to be seized before your coemption gets to it first. Adobe Digital Insights reports that social mentions for travel and AR/VR-related experiences are on the increase.
- We make payments easy
The world is on its smartphone and travel organisations need to be making their worlds easily accessible on the mobile channel, especially in the area of mobile payments. “Mobile payment capability is often called the last true pain point in the true digitisation of the travel industry”. People are booking more rapidly, more spontaneously, and on the basis of more insight into the product; see my point on VR/AR.
- We show what’s on offer
Customer acquisition is one major challenge but retention is another thing altogether. Delivering personalised experiences need not, should not, be a purely pre-sales strategy. Customer satisfaction needs to be continually nurtured to deliver great memories that feed the inclination for repeat business from customers. This is where location-based experiences play a key role. Let your customers know you’re there for them when they arrive and demonstrate added value by delivering useful tips and ideas based on exactly where they are. As they enter specific locales or areas a set of experiences can be pushed to their mobile devices as options for them to consider, try, and buy. Once again, data is the key.
- We’re unique
Social media listening
Really? Are you sure? Is your entire organisation and operation as customer-centric as you can make it? Locations are locations. The Internet abounds in choices for sun-soaked hideaways, or ecstatic, rave-fuelled hotspots, and everything in between. It also abounds in opinion, feedback and customer reviews.Bad reviews make bad business. Being unique depends on super customer service and customer experience. To make sure you understand how you’re perceived and where room exists for improvement you should have a robust social media listening strategy in place.This essential approach ties back into the tools and processes you use to leverage your Big Data; where we started. So, all aboard.
Viadex can help you create the essential itinerary for the year ahead, using cloud technologies and advanced storage capabilities to drive customer acquisition in this increasingly competitive market. If you want help with your choices and strategies for the year ahead and the horizons beyond, just get in touch. firstname.lastname@example.org
Viadex specialise in infrastructure and network management, offering a range of Managed Services across security, datacentre, and end user workspace. We help organisations take advantage of the business flexibility, agility and fluidity that drives the competitive advantage: from any location, on any device, with access to the data your employees need, in the most secure and user-friendly way possible.
Viadex work with best-in-breed solutions providers to offer customers proven capabilities. Tegile is one such provider with whom Viadex have a close and collaborative working relationship, giving you best solutions deployed by best people to deliver best outcomes.