In travel industry, disruption is the new normal

According to Ankur Bhatia, Director, Amadeus India, striking the right balance between technological changes and personalised services to the travellers is the main challenge for the stakeholders in the business.

111As an industry leader please share your thoughts on the industry’s ecosystem, its growth and key factors fueling its development?
Travel has been one of the key growth sectors for the Indian economy which has proven its resilience amidst economic challenges. The industry continues to be one of the most dynamic industries that offers a diverse portfolio of niche tourism products – cruises, adventure, medical, wellness, sports, MICE, eco-tourism, film, rural and religious tourism. It is also a potentially large employment generator besides being a significant source of foreign exchange for the country. According to the Ministry of Tourism, in 2015 the industry saw a phenomenal growth of 1073.8% in tourist arrival facilitated by the introduction of the E-visa scheme to 113 countries.
Disruption in the travel industry is the new normal with the evolution of personalization as virtual reality and artificial intelligence is gaining steam. Technology is leapfrogging itself daily with proliferation of digital tools such as smart phones is making information more accessible, transactions more seamless, and processes more interactive. It has become imperative for the travel industry today to tap into technological innovations to engage with the hyper-connected traveller to maximize operational and commercial performance.
With our vision of personalisation in the global travel ecosystem, today, Amadeus is working together with every part of the travel industry – from airlines to travel agents (both online and offline), hotels, rail companies and airports – with a clear aim to use smart travel intelligence to enable them better connect with the customer across the entire end-to-end travel experience.

How has the travel industry evolved so far itself to offer more personalised and contextualised service and how personalization will benefit the business?  
In today’s day and age, technology has continued to evolve and transformed the way consumers talk about, search for, book and experience travel. It has also ensured that there is more choice than ever for customers when it comes to travel. Though many feel that in times to come data will be by far the most important resource available to a travel stakeholder: giving them the competitive advantage. However, we feel that the industry will move beyond collecting data to actually creating real value from the data. This will allow the travel industry to have a deeper understanding of their customers and enable automation of many manual-processes as well as pre-empting customer demands.
Given this insight Amadeus is constantly developing newer technology for the travel industry so that they can offer the information and tailored services to travellers resulting in greater traveller satisfaction.

How has the traveller evolved with all the recent times and how do you suggest the industry respond to this new breed of traveler?
Todays’ traveller is tech savvy, hyper-connected whose demand for hyper-customisation has turned into a default expectation.
The traveller today has more power than ever before. They are increasingly complex, empowered, and no longer want to be stereotyped into demographic groups of age, nationality and income. A recent research by Frost and Sullivan indicates that tomorrow’s travellers seek to create their own unique experiences by tapping into inspiration from other travellers and sharing their own personal plans.
The increased role of social media in travel decisions, combined with the explosion of OTAs in recent years, means travel industry needs to utilise personalisation to keep in touch with their existing customers and engage new ones. Personalisation allows the travel industry to offer customers a unique and exclusive product.  
Technology is playing an important role to help the industry respond to the newly evolved traveler by allowing retailers in the industry to capture relevant information and create personalised, inspiring offers leading to conversions and drive loyalty.
To keep up with these evolving demands, Amadeus India introduced the Indian travel industry to the latest and most technically advanced automated products available in international market. These products have been well received by global network airlines, low cost carriers, multinational travel agencies as well as independent hotels to streamline and enhance the value of business processes and deliver a decisive competitive advantage.

How can business use technology to ensure that experiences match expense?
While technology has evolved and transformed the way consumers talk about, search for, book and experience travel however, the lack of geographical boundaries has also created a risk of losing sight of what retailing is all about. Moreover, traffic acquisition has become front and centre for many online and mobile retailers thus moving the focus away from creating loyalty and unique experiences for travellers.
We believe that delivering a unique and professional service to the traveller has always been fundamental to the success of any travel business. And that is truer in today’s world than ever before where the traveller is better informed, better connected, has more experience and no shortage of choice. Finding the right balance of technology and customer intimacy through personalisation and tailored services to travellers will certainly result in greater traveller satisfaction.
Given this Amadeus is constantly developing newer technology to help the travel industry carve out a niche and deliver real value through deep knowledge of that field and a unique proposition through tailored services thereby resulting in better conversions and sustained loyalty.
This is one area where we feel that technology steps in, allowing retailers to inspire the right people, create personalised offers that are centred squarely on the traveller and convert traffic into a loyal customer base, regardless of channel.
Today, Amadeus is working together with every part of the travel industry – from airlines to travel agents (both online and offline), hotels, rail companies and airports – to enable them to become ‘Power Retailers’, better connected with the customer across the entire end-to-end travel experience.

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