Friday, November 20, 2020
Travel Forward Virtual has successfully completed its three-day conference, leaving the industry with a plethora of technology-focused takeaways to help frame the travel’s rebuild and recovery phase. “Data” in its broadest sense was a common theme across the sessions, and reflected not only the importance of accurate insights upon which future plans can be based but also how some of the learnings from the peak of the pandemic can help the industry move forward.
Andrew van der Feltz from Expedia Group Media Solutions shared data which showed that, travellers continued to dream about their next travels even when lockdowns and restrictions were at their most intense. He advised that destinations and brands should stay active even when the opportunities to travel are limited and is worth considering if or when another wave of travel restrictions arrives. In the same session, forward-looking advised listeners to prepare for a last-minute and latest market, with the vast majority of Expedia’s global customers looking for departures within the next three weeks or sooner. Accurate data is a pre-requisite for many of the industry’s plans to innovate its way towards recovery.
David Adamcyzk from Booking.com Group outlined various data points in a session about the connected trip- from flight details, accommodation, and in-destination to personal preferences and social signals that need to be accessed and integrated into a single point of service. He shared that customers need to feel that everything is integrated so they can book and manage their trip as and when they want. Similarly, Manuel Hilty of Nezasa, building a hyper- personalisation end-to-end itinerary planning tool, noted that there is even more complexity behind the scenes. He stated that in order to find success customers should only be provided with the choice they want. He said that customers do not need to see everything and shared the company strives to automate as much of this as possible.
Data is also part of the industry’s ongoing drive to make the search shop and booking experience better for travellers. Airlines were looking at more effective ways to retail their inventory before the outbreak, with IATA’s new distribution capability seen as the distribution game-changer. Lufthansa’s Kevin Young noted that “the momentum hasn’t stopped” during the air slowdown. It was revealed that the momentum culminated in a new product last month, known as NDC continuous pricing. This allows airlines greater flexibility over pricing than the traditional approach, and is likely to benefit both travellers and airlines.
Richard Gayle, Event Director, Travel Forward, said in his statement that every session, every speaker, every question in the chat box, contributed to the bigger picture conversations around technology’s role in helping the travel industry to recover from the pandemic. He mentioned that data, end-to-end journeys, personalisation, NDC among others were hot topics even before the outbreak and have become more business-critical during the recovery phase. He shared that innovation never stands still in travel and said that ravel Forward has been forced to rethink and adapt in response to the pandemic, and, like the rest the industry, will come out the other side in a much stronger position.
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