Post-Covid-19 travel is highly connected – and personal.
The travel industry has been transformed by digital innovation over the past two decades, perhaps more so than any other sector, with no segment of the global travel ecosystem left untouched.
Thanks to technology, you can browse an infinite amount of travel content before sharing, booking and confirming in a matter of minutes – and at the touch of a finger. Covid-19 restrictions aside, travelling today is more accessible and convenient than ever before.
It’s also far more personal. Digitalisation has allowed travel management companies (TMCs) to collect data and consumer analytics, which in turn allows them to learn more about a customer’s preferences and behaviour so they can improve, personalise and optimise the entire customer journey.
But Covid-19 too has had an impact on innovation in the travel industry, with the acceleration, advancement and adoption of new technology happening at an impressive rate.
Understanding digital innovations in a post-Covid-19 world
Once Covid-19 became a concern, there was an immediate demand for new technology that would reduce human-to-human contact across the traveller experience. Contactless technology is now readily available and doing its part in keeping travellers feeling both safe and confident.
This technology takes the form of quick, intuitive online bookings tools; contact-free check-in; digital payment options when on the move; and much, much more. It is all still continuously advancing, and it is expected that solutions like airport security biometrics (for example, facial recognition) and digital health passports will be introduced in the not-too-distant future.
How tech facilitates connection – and boosts confidence
Statistica reports that global business travel spending declined by a whopping 61 percent last year. The great news for the industry is that traveller confidence for both leisure and business travellers is on the rise, despite hitting an all-time low just a few months ago.
According to the results of a poll conducted by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), 72 percent of respondents claimed that they are interested in travelling to see family and friends as soon as possible, an improvement from just 63 percent of respondents in September 2020.
Furthermore, the GoldSpring Consulting Business Traveller Sentiment Survey revealed that as many as 63 percent of corporate travellers hoped to get back to business travel within the next six months, and 70 percent expected to resume business travel before the end of the year.
Bonnie Smith, general manager of FCM, believes that there’s nothing more crucial to business travel’s recovery than feeding and nurturing traveller confidence right now, and that digital technology plays a massive role in supporting this goal.
“There’s no doubt that tech facilitates connected travel. Up-to-the-minute communications, information and travel alerts help a traveller feel connected and ‘in-the-loop’ when it comes to each and every aspect of their travel experience. After all, they want to be informed immediately of any changes to Covid-19 restrictions when travelling to a particular destination. They want to know what Covid-19 protocols have been put in place at their intended accommodation, and how to check-in with limited face-to-face contact. They want to know of any spikes in Covid-19 infections and what action to take to further safeguard themselves,” she says.
It is not only about keeping the traveller confident, but also about boosting confidence regarding travel for the company itself. Often, this is achieved through traveller or itinerary tracking – in other words, mapping the locations of all a company’s travellers and tracking their movements to help optimise safety, security, and duty of care.
How corporations can embrace connected travel
Ultimately, there is only one true way for companies to embrace the power of digitalisation and what that means for smart, connected travel – and that is to seek out the right support and the right technology. Even if the companies in question are slightly behind in this regard, it is easy to get up to speed by partnering with a trusted TMC.
“Reputable TMCs are now equipped with the digital must-haves that help to transform corporate travel for the benefit of both the company and the traveller. Everyone is kept connected and informed, and the traveller doesn’t feel like just another number,” Bonnie explains.
“Due to the improved connectedness and emphasis on duty of care, the experience is personalised, too. The traveller feels cared for, seen, and heard. Most importantly, however, the traveller feels empowered and confident in stepping on board that aeroplane, staying in that hotel room, and getting back to business wherever they may find themselves in the world,” she concludes.