The beginning of winter brought us a new study of innovation and technology from one of the leading media in the industry – Travolution, a world-renowned brand of Jacobs Media Group. The innovation report, conducted by Travolution unmasks the trends in travel technology and features some important findings.
We summarized below a first sneak peek from the extended study. All three travel & tech professionals interviewed, Decius Valmorbida from Amadeus , George Dumitru from wbe.travel and Fabio Zecchini from Tui Musement, agreed on three major aspects: the value of technology for the travel sector, the importance of collaboration and partnerships and the most important – the innovation made for the end consumer – the savvy traveler. Moreover, George Dumitru, wbe.travel’s co-founder, talked to Lee Hayhurst about the subscription-based models, ideal for travel companies during and after COVID crisis.
“Since Travolution last posted the innovation report, back in February 2020, when the scale of COVID-19 crisis was unthinkable, changes have been constant for all of us, the travel industry. The Oxford Languages dictionary says innovation is crucial to the continuing success of any organization. Based on that, we need to hope we are on the cusp of an age of innovations. However, as our analysis shows many firms have reduced their investment in IT at the very time there needed to be at their most innovative. But innovation comes in many forms and does not necessarily need huge budgets. So how do firms innovate in the time of Covid?” a note from Travolution’s editor Lee Hayhurst.
New subscription models
Travel technology specialist wbe.travel says its new subscription-based model, developed to support clients during and post-pandemic, reflects how B2B tech partnerships will evolve. The Bucharest-based software developer spent the lockdown preparing to transition away from a more traditional software licensing model.
George Dumitru, founder and chief executive, said subscribing to wbe.travel’s cloud-based suite of technology products would be more cost-effective for clients. “The idea is that this model will be for start-ups and SMEs that are either offline and want to go online or have an online presence but it’s not good enough. This is for firms that want fresh, modern technology which usually takes years to adopt but with us, it will take weeks or even months for a personalized implementation”. wbe.travel offers a tiered structure subscription, from a standard package to a more premium one that offers greater flexibility and potential for bespoke implementation.
The package offers a range of B2B and B2C booking and mobile modules, allowing users to access travel products from major suppliers and from their own portfolio with exclusive, direct deals with hoteliers. Dumitru said the “Pay as you Grow” subscription model meant no upfront setup costs and low monthly fees based on transaction volumes.
The Covid crisis has been thought, but some travel tech providers, such as wbe.travel, believe it can hasten positive change.
In this report, Travolution sets out what UK government data tells us has been the impact on travel firms’ ability to invest in the technologies required to innovate for a vibrant future. On the face of it, it’s not a pretty picture, with budgets slashed and passenger numbers and revenue devastated. Following a second poor summer for UK outbound leisure, but as signs of a sustained recovery emerge initially in domestic and short-haul, the sector is now looking ahead.
Decius Valmorbida, president of travel at Innovation Report partner Amadeus, said this vision of the future must place greater emphasis on the value of travel as a product. In the endeavor, he sees the interconnectedness of the industry spurring further collaboration as businesses work together to focus on the entire customer journey. Valmorbida said the pandemic has forced or offered the opportunity, for all players in the value chain to take time to reassess their place in the travel ecosystem.
Collaboration and new partnerships
We’ve stated before that collaboration is key but Covid has once again shown us that working together for a higher goal is essential when customers are looking for the reassurance of up-to-date, reliable information. Valmorbida said that “Collaboration is crucial. The industry realized its interconnected nature many years ago and has embarked on collaborative digital transformation, where companies that compete also cooperate to improve the digital infrastructure on which they all rely.”
George Dumitru, wbe.travel’s CEO talked about the collaboration in the travel industry and in the travel tech sector, one year ago in a live session at the Travolution European Summit. The travel sector has always been a complex interplay between players that compete and cooperate for the attention of customers, often at the same time. The session focused on how the coronavirus pandemic changed the dynamic between supplier and intermediary. Will we see a renewed sense of collaboration, or will the battle for customers drive more aggressive direct sell tactics?
Partnerships in travel have become more important as firms look to share the resources needed to create technology rather than build it themselves, added Fabio Zecchini from Tui Musement.
The difference between the travel industry and other sectors is that it’s not always just about a piece of technology. Partnerships and integration between different technology companies in the travel space will be vital to scale up. Sometimes it’s important and more efficient to build and develop internally; other times, you need to partner with other companies. “It’s a matter of being focused – you cannot do everything, but you want to be the best at what you are doing.” stated the founder of Tui Musement.
Innovation in travel
“As in all sectors, the key factor for development is innovation. Among our families, friends, colleagues and customers, we have witnessed extraordinary resilience and inventiveness. The travel sector has reinvented itself in a matter of months. While we will not be going ‘back to normal’ there is a new normal; adapting to fit the reality of the pandemic.” Valmorbida said he is optimistic about the future for travel despite all the current uncertainties.
Somehow combining the two strong topics listed above, Fabio Zecchin from Tui Musement said loud and clear that “the industry must emerge from this crisis more aligned”. But what does that mean and how it can be done?
Challenging though the pandemic has been, it has also offered a chance to take a step back and re-engineer travel technology, said Mr. Zecchini. The alignment of the industry must be made accordingly, with the changing customer expectations. “The consumer is expecting this from the industry,” he said. “People had become used to inefficiencies they are not expecting anymore. It was important for the Tui group, as it is for the industry, to invest in technology to be ready once business comes back because the customer is expecting more from us.”
If you’re interested in finding out more download the whole report “Travolution Innovation Report 2021: Tech strategies in the COVID aftermath”.
Image Copyright @Travolution.com
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