Imagine a world where all travel companies had adopted cloud by the time COVID-19 hit. It’s easy if you try.
They would have been able to scale up and down their systems to respond to changes in demand as borders were closing across the globe. This would have made it easier to respond to immediate business needs, whilst maintaining an excellent customer experience during a time of massive disruption.
They would have had the technology in place to service their customers via the channels of their choice. And, they could have responded to customer anxiety efficiently, without long wait times.
Imagine how cloud could have provided the industry with the agility to innovate quickly and offer alternative experiences to customers. Encouraging them to return to travel as soon as they were able to.
You may say I’m a dreamer, but the benefits are undeniable. For me, travel is a truly magical and inherently human experience which, when combined with technology, can deliver something truly special.
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Cloud delivers experiences like never before
With less time in the skies over these past few months, I’ve been reflecting on the more memorable travel experiences that I’ve had. Those that stick most in my mind are the ones that are connected. End to end. Door to door. It’s the trips where I’ve felt looked after and that I’m under the airline’s care from the minute I leave home to the point of arrival which bring me the fondest memories. These experiences have directly impacted my perceptions around personal safety and the reliability of the service that I am being offered.
I was interested to read the results of our US Holiday Shopping Survey in which 38% of people interviewed said they remain anxious about traveling due to the health and safety of the people they are traveling with. I’m sure that the introduction of touchless technologies and seamless experiences will play an important part in helping travelers rebuild their confidence, and cloud will play a pivotal role.
Solutions that bring you closer to the new traveler
Consumer sentiment has changed, and demand will not only be difficult to find, but also to capture as well as to nurture.
Travel companies need to review the customer experience from start to finish, considering new expectations in areas such as safety, trust and responsiveness.
I read the research run by Expedia.com recently which shows that travelers’ booking preferences have undergone a drastic shift. For the first time in years, the majority of US travelers are booking flights less than a month out.
Companies need to be able to adapt quickly to these changing expectations and adjust their operations at speed in order to win traveler loyalty.
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Technology that responds to customers' concerns
Health and Safety will be top of mind for many, but not necessarily the highest priority for all customers, some of whom might be more interested in incentives such as free cancellation.
Data gathered by Expedia.com shows that ‘flexibility’ will be among the key priorities for travelers in 2021. This year, US travelers booked refundable rates 10% more often, compared with 2019.
I know that I’ll be looking for experiences that are led by digital. I’ll gravitate towards airlines and hotels whose front-line workforce demonstrate safety protocols that build my trust.
Cloud-based solutions will provide travel companies with the agility to test new personalized sales and marketing approaches. This agility will also allow them to change and flex their business models to accommodate quickly by region, market, segment, and ultimately by the customer.
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Cloud connects you to the ecosystem
I, along with many of my colleagues, firmly believe that the recovery of the travel industry will be rooted in collaboration. The shift in consumer behavior has been too big for travel companies to be able to address it alone.
Companies will need to tap into the services offered by ecosystem partners to create the new, frictionless experiences that customers will be expecting. This requires a cloud foundation, as it’s the only way of ensuring that partners’ systems can be integrated quickly and easily.
At this point in travel’s trajectory, any delay in addressing this will see the industry fall behind in the race to rebuild consumer confidence.
Remember that end-to-end, door to door experience that I told you early I loved? Well that wouldn’t have been possible without integration with other partners, enabled by the cloud.
The time is now
Here’s the silver lining: Today’s challenges are the perfect reason for travel companies to reimagine their business and IT infrastructure.
Whereas previously companies were aware that they needed to provide new services to remain competitive, and that cloud would help them, the need wasn’t so urgent as the demand was still there.
As John Lennon said: You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. Agility and scalability are what is needed to prepare for a future that will be dominated by disruption, and cloud is the enabler that will make this happen.
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