It’s a universally acknowledged fact that technology has influenced every aspect of human life, specifically over the last few years. This stands unambiguously true for travel industry. Remember the time when ‘things-to-pack’ list used to be very extensive – camera, film rolls, walkman, copies of important documents, maps, dictionary etc. All these things can be carried in one tiny device called smart phone now! The impact of technology has been huge on both travellers as well as travel service providers; tools, technologies and apps are constantly evolving to enable better travel experience.
With digitization being the biggest disruptor in travel fraternity, the year 2018 has and will continue to the year of embracing smart technology in business travel. According to Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), India is the world’s fastest growing business travel market. It is crucial for industry players to strategize to stay ahead of the increasingly tech-savvy business traveller across India and world. This challenging and dynamic customer base demands better services in shortest amount of time possible. Corporate travel calls for a need to revolutionize industry by maximising efficiencies, improving experience and increasing choice and options.
In 2018, any organisation that wishes to serve today’s digitally smart traveller must align itself with their expectations and anticipate them to stay ahead of curve. To survive and thrive in the business, it is important to accept and adapt technologies. Rapid penetration of smart phones, near field communication, in flight wi-fi, faster networks and many such advances are accelerating the penetration of technology into every aspect of travel. Self-booking tools, travel analytics, artificial intelligence, and sharing economy services are not only here to stay but hold myriad and exciting possibilities for the future.
Our Indian business travel market is on the cusp of technological innovation led by its fast-growing millennial workforce, smartphone usage and fast internet connectivity at prices. Having envisioned digital India, the government announced a new initiative led by Ministry of Civil Aviation called ‘DigiYatra’ to transform the nation into a digitally empowered society. Under this, aviation stakeholders – airlines, airport operators, security and immigration agencies, cab operators, retail establishment are working to devise digital standards which can enable seamless exchange of data and information. It aims to bring together entire industry to develop a digital ecosystem that will deliver Indian customers a seamless, consistent and paperless service experience at every touch point of their journey. This could prove to be a game changer in the travel industry.
The current digital ecosystem and promise of future innovation has created a conducive environment for the travel industry to grow rapidly. We live in a dynamic world where consumer data is easily accessible, and strategies should be continuously devised basis their behaviour patterns. While constant engagement with the clients, travellers and other stakeholders on technology solutions is imperative, service providers also face the perennial challenge of differentiating themselves to meet the evolving technology needs of the growing breed of the new age travellers. The objective lies in making this information more relevant and actionable for travellers in India. At the end, consumer is looking for services that are personal, seamless and could be experienced over and over again.
[The author is Managing Director, FCM Travel Solutions – Indian Subsidiary of Flight Centre Travel Group, Australia]