The right content mix can help drive recovery, argues Javier Laforgue of Amadeus
We are only just beginning to fully grasp the events of 2020 and their impact on our industry.
Grounded flights, shifting consumer attitudes to travel, new and fast-changing government regulations and increased operating costs due to the effects of Covid-19 are all taking their toll.
It can be hard enough to predict what priorities consumers will have next week, let alone next year.
That said, it is important we make time to consider what might come next.
Amadeus recently found that the majority of those who travel for leisure want to go to their preferred destinations within three months of restrictions being lifted.
In the same survey, 96% of people indicated they will continue to fly long-term.
The key for travel sellers looking to drive business in 2021 will be the same as ever – ensuring travellers have access to the offers to destinations they want to go to and trips they want to plan.
Now is an opportunity to make sure travel sellers have the right content to meet this pent-up demand.
The right mix of content is crucial to get back up and running, dealing with unpredictable surges in demand and changing traveller behaviour.
In spite of the uncertainty, we’ve seen airlines of all sizes eager to reach travellers via all channels.
Amadeus has been able to launch or extend partnerships with carriers including Air France-KLM, Southwest Airlines, Air New Zealand, Air India and Pakistan International Airlines, as well as regional airlines such as Bamboo Airways and Cambodia Airways.
With 70% of leisure travellers favouring self or agent-made trips, flights are also being joined by other content, including hotel and in-trip services.
However, to drive value, the question is not only what content is on offer but how it is offered.
Even before 2020, much of the industry’s focus was on addressing content fragmentation which was affecting agents’ ability to serve travellers quickly and efficiently.
When distribution deals are signed, content must be easily accessible in one place.
For those who service business travellers, this also means ensuring corporations can book through integrated online booking tools.
More broadly, it’s essential that travel agencies can book airline content with the highest access level.
Access levels help regulate the functional quality of airline content provided to travel sellers in terms of schedules and availability. The highest level of access ensures visibility and access in real-time to the actual number of seats available in a specific class.
Additionally, with content via NDC now live we are opening opportunities to enhance offers presented to the traveller.
Airlines will be able to create special NDC bundles for corporate customers. This means frequent business travellers will have more tailored packages such as Wi-Fi, lounge access or seat selection for all bookings.
Also, it’s possible for airlines to implement dynamic-pricing strategies via NDC, allowing carriers to build more-flexible price offers and adjust price points in real time.
So, once content fragmentation is addressed, what next?
We see an omnichannel strategy as a driver for the future, key to serving the traveller who no longer interacts with their trips in one place and increasingly demands the ability to manage and book on their phones and in-destination.
60% of consumers now start shopping on one device before switching to another to make a purchase.
Demand for access to bookings across a range of channels is likely to accelerate in a Covid travel landscape.
Yet we see only one in five travel agencies globally planning to invest in an omnichannel strategy in the next five years.
With the Amadeus Travel Platform, content is now accessible to agents in one place, across a fully open system. So it is easier than ever for travel sellers to provide an omnichannel experience to customers.
The recovery will not be easy, but by working together and taking the time to better understand traveller needs, we are confident there are good times ahead for the travel industry.
Javier Laforgue is Amadeus executive vice-president for airline distribution and content sourcing
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