The unstoppable rise of travel technology employment
Since the inception of the internet in 1983, and Tim Berners Lee’s subsequent kick-start of the World Wide Web in 1989, booking a holiday and working in travel has changed beyond recognition. Remember sitting in a travel agent’s shop waiting for an hour while the agent basically picked flights and a holiday for you? Back then, all you had to go on was a picture in a brochure and the opinion of the agent. They had an ancient computer (booking systems and travel technology employment were in their infancy) and would spend long minutes waiting to speak to a flight-booking agent on the phone, while you all twiddled your thumbs. Now, ABTA research shows that 76% of us use the internet to book a holiday, with just 21% preferring the phone (and even those people have usually searched the web first). Just a tiny number of us enter a travel agency in person to book.
Travel companies with a strong online presence are the most competitive, but the game is swiftly moving to advanced tech offerings. Don’t get left behind – now is the time to improve your tech offering, and think bravely about travel technology employment. 21st-century customers are impatient – we all crave instant service for all aspects of travel. And as a company you aim to reduce loss of business and increase conversion rates. It’s tech or bust.
Go tech or go home
David Chapple, event director for Travel Technology Europe, has said, ‘Technology budgets keep increasing and many keep investing in new technologies every quarter. The biggest challenges for the industry are mobile, competition, fraud, social, VR and Europe, whereas the industry is most excited about mobile, VR, AI/Chatbots, payments (Blockchain), social media and 3D.’
When it comes to booking travel, people often choose the DIY approach, but this is rarely done as accurately and without as much trouble as a travel agent or assistant would take. As more companies move towards automation with a booking service available 24/7 many of us will still crave the human touch. This is why travel agents of the future must be armed with the right technology tools, and stay ahead of the game in terms of travel technology employment. In business travel, some companies are producing solutions to take Travel Management companies or a travel manager out of the equation entirely. They mean business, so it’s more important than ever that the experts in the know have the right tools to keep up.
Travel technology employment isn’t about tech vs humans – both are needed
Customers crave choice so giving them an alternative tool such as web and mobile application to search and book their trips can satisfy that desire for efficiency and instant results. But then the real experts – the humans – can be free to deal with customers who need a personal touch at certain points of making their travel arrangements. Customers will always have additional queries and questions that only a human can help with.
Technology is needed to ensure that every avenue is looked into. The internet of things will revolutionise the business and leisure travel experience. This is coupled with the increased use of IoT for seamless hotel and airline functionality; IoT is a continuing growth area in travel technology employment. Business travellers and travel consultants alike will be empowered and more in control than ever before.
Why we need consolidated systems
Technology is not about taking the human element out of travel; it is about revolutionising the booking and travel experience for both consultant and traveller. There are aspects that can and should be simplified. For agents, expense management, travel insurance, booking tools, risk assessment, communication and analytics are just some of the must-haves that can be made easier with consolidated tech.
For example, for agents, having one consolidated system to manage all this would go a long way to ensure they remain productive and at the top of their game. Integrating with a GDS through XML for different hotel systems or third-party systems is critical. Whether this system is designed by an in-house tech team, or is bought in, the important thing is not to get left behind. In this day and age, having a one-stop-system to integrate bookings not only saves time and frustration, but is a no-brainer.
An internet booking engine for consumers is the freedom to research and book their trips outside of normal office hours, without the need for an agent to process and confirm it. Human error needs to be complemented with robotic accuracy and robotic accuracy needs to be sense checked by a human. It’s undeniable that the right technology makes things simpler and better for most.
Even back in 2015, Skift identified 15 travel tech sector ‘unicorns’, ie start-ups valued at $1bn or more. And travel industry tech employment continues to grow. We’re in an exciting, evolving and revolutionary era. Watch this space.