Fergal Kelly, product and marketing head for Travelport Digital, referred to the slow boiling of frogs (which they fail to notice) when he referenced the demise of video and DVD stores and many traditional retailers.
‘Some people would say they were killed off by developments like Netflix and Amazon. But that’s not really the case. What killed these businesses is that they did not recognise the nature of changes going on until it was too late. ‘Just because you feel comfortable today doesn’t mean you should.’ He says those involved in the travel industry need to recognise the significant changes occurring, not only in technology but also in their clients’ expectations, if they are to be successful.
‘The future has arrived, it is just not evenly distributed yet. Consumers are saying, don’t make me work for it, make me want it. They expect anticipation and reliable fulfilment of their needs.’ Kelly says that although people travel for all sorts of reasons, fundamentally it is to connect with people and places. ‘Connection with places in the future will be enabled more by technology and what has worked in the past isn’t going to necessarily work in the future.’
Fellow speaker Mike Croucher, chief architect at Travelport, was another who emphasised the need to focus on the changing requirements and desires of the customer. ‘This industry was built on segment sale. What people are saying now is ‘give me an experience’ so the trip becomes both the journey and the experience. It’s not about selling a segment any more.’ He says the travel industry needs to simplify its business model for customers. ‘It’s too complicated and we need to put systems of intelligence in place to fix that. People don’t want to search the internet to see where they need to look. They want it to come to them.’