Staying in Business means staying relevant. Staying relevant in turn means Innovating. Only the most Innovative Travel Companies are going to stay in Business in the future. Those who have stopped Innovating might as well shut shop and go.
If we take a look around us we see how the Mighty have fallen, how the “David has Slain the Goliath“, Back in 1980’s and 90’s if you wanted to do Business with India and the UAE there were really only a few companies one considered and these were the key players in the market.
These were the days of the Telex Machines and Faxes, there was little or no technology available, mobile phones hadn’t made it to the mass market and one was restricted to the offerings from the few companies and people were also loyal as the Consultants knew the clients and their likes and dislikes.
Travel Consultants knew a little more and customers a little less and sales happened. Companies got away by making 20% or higher margins and all was good. Communication was difficult and expensive and awareness was limited. Word of mouth played a critical role and if someone you knew recommended you to a Travel Agency you knew you could trust them.
The real shift happened when iPhone was introduced, it changed the way we interacted with the world around us, You did not need a computer anymore and you could do things from the Palm of your hand.
As the data became affordable and easily available we had access to all the information no matter where we were. There were Innovators who were quick to recognize the potential of the small screen and Innovated and profited by investing into a Website and a Mobile site model.
A decade ago we saw that the Mobile Websites and Apps became the norm and once again those who were quick to innovate and launch the mobile-friendly websites profited.
A lot of companies decided to go all in with Mobile and move away from traditional websites model. If we just look around us we see how much we have come to rely on our apps. There is literally one for everything. The way we shop has changed completely.
So why should travel be any different?
Tourism Industry saw people moving away from traditional travel agents to online sites, to sites which had an app, as this made life easy. With an app, one could, from the comfort of their house check availability and book.
The game changed again with Booking.com bringing inventory to consumers directly, No More waiting for the rates, no more pre-paying as Booking.com gives people the option to pay at the Hotels at the time of check-in or check-out.
This also brought transperancy and meant that the Travel Agents couldn’t get away by charging 20% now and had to scale down on profit margins. “Booking.com” took on the Global Travel Agencies and won big, It made even the biggest names run for cover and align the markups.
What are you doing in your Business to Innovate?
What is your Strategy to stay relevant?
The pace at which the Technology is changing literally on a daily basis, over 50% of the companies would not exist 5 years from now. Some of the Biggest names like Thomas Cook UK and Cox and Kings India have fallen.
Blockchain, AI, Virtual Experiences, are all very real and would be game changers, and these are just technologies we are familiar with. There are things on the Horizon which would change how the Airlines are booked, how the Hotels are booked and how experiences would be easily accessible to all.
Dynamic packaging is already happening and in a very short time we would be seeing travel websites having capabilities to dynamically create packages for the clients. (HolidayME in UAE which is just 3 years old does this already and has a huge customer base)
Experiences are becoming key drivers, whether its Northern Lights or Safari in Kenya, Travel is today more activity based.
People are travelling more and more for Short breaks. There is competition and this leads to price transperancy. Innovative Travel Companies are today using Technology, to provide seamless experiences.
With so much choice and easy access the loyalty of customers would remain in question unless you have a way to delight your customers by delivering to them what you have promised.
More and more tech drive innovative Travel companies are making their presence felt, One of the best examples I have seen in the recent times is a startup called Pick your Trail, by helping customers build their entire itinerary online they are solving a huge problem for the end customers and have grown from 1500 Travellers in 2016 to over 10,000 in 2019
If you wish to stay in Business then It is imperative that you take a hard look at your Innovation levels and decide what your next step is. Are you future ready? Because the clients are.