Image: Adobe Stock
Image: Adobe Stock
The question is, how can travel suppliers do their part to restore and nurture corporate traveller confidence? Research indicates the answer lies in adopting technology to streamline and maximise safety throughout the traveller experience.
Based on a survey commissioned by travel tech company Amadeus, 84% of the 6,000 travellers interviewed said technology would boost their confidence to travel in the next 12 months.
When asked to be more specific about what type of technology would provide a much-needed sense of relief, most respondents said cellphone applications offering on-trip notifications were top of the list, closely followed by contactless mobile payment options.
“We’ve seen the adoption of technology accelerate since the COVID-19 pandemic,” Corporate Traveller GM Oz Desai said.
“For travellers today, 24/7 availability is not just a convenience, it is a necessity. Mobile apps like Corporate Traveller’s chatbot SAM:] are quickly becoming the best solutions for around-the-clock service, as they are programmed to deliver reliable and personalised responses. Corporate Traveller is part of the Flight Centre Travel Group.
“SAM :] is programmed to keep travellers updated at all times, from weather updates at the destination to information on the traveller’s departure gate, flight time changes and where to collect baggage.
“The power of technology is changing the very nature of corporate travel, making it feel more like leisure travel with a smarter focus.”
Biometrics are another important innovation that will see an acceleration in 2021. About a third of respondents in the Amadeus study highlighted how physical inspections and face-to-face interactions at the airport made them feel uncomfortable. Biometrics in the form of voice or facial recognition could help them to feel more at ease in this regard, they said.
Further to this, a third of respondents agreed universal digital traveller identification would be a great idea. The thinking behind this type of identification is that it would contain all relevant personal details about the traveller, including their immunity status, making it unnecessary to exchange any documents or COVID-related medical records by hand.
The identification would also limit the number of times a traveller would need to undergo screening and other checks before being cleared to board a plane.
The reality is that not all travel suppliers can afford to invest in custom apps or automated solutions. However, they can still make the effort to embrace digitisation in various ways to streamline the traveller experience.
“It is quickly becoming evident that agile digitisation is more important than ever before,” Desai said.
Considering how easily the virus is spread through person-to-person contact, we will see an increasing number of travel suppliers adopt contactless technology. Many suppliers have already embraced contactless technology to help flatten the curve, but the advancement of this technology will continue.
Travel suppliers will opt to partner with tech companies to create bespoke solutions for their clients in order to provide customers with maximum peace of mind. This will see the implementation of touch-free experiences, gadgets and devices across the corporate travel experience.
“If experts are to be believed, soon enough, it won’t even be necessary to touch a door handle to use the bathroom on a plane or flip a light switch in your hotel room. The vast majority of these daily touch tasks will evolve into effortless, sensor-controlled actions,” Desai said.
It isn’t enough for travel suppliers to be adopting and using in-demand travel tech to their advantage. It is vital they clearly communicate this to their existing and future clients, too.
“Pin the information regarding new COVID travel tech solutions on your social media pages. Create a pop-up message, as well as a dedicated web page, on your website. Send out email and SMS communication. Spend money on radio or newspaper adverts if budget allows.
“Record an informative voice message for your helpline. There are countless opportunities to make an impact regarding spreading the word about the new tech itself and its many benefits,” Desai said.
A combination of providing travellers with streamlined technology and solutions, coupled with ample communication regarding these solutions, will make a real difference in how confident (or not) they feel about travelling again. It is also going to impact how quickly the travel industry is able to recover over the next few years, Desai said.