A few weeks ago, travel news website Skift teamed up with Amazon Web Services to canvass the views of 1,000 tourism & hospitality executives on digital transformation in their business and how COVID-19 has changed their strategy when it comes to technology and cloud-based solutions. You can download the original report here – meanwhile, here are our takeaways…
COVID-19 Has Increased the Pace of Digital Transformation
We’ve been saying it for weeks – whereas a few months ago digital transformation was seen as a nice-to-have rather than an essential for many travel companies, COVID-19 and its decimation of our industry has changed attitudes across the board. 57% of those surveyed said that the pandemic would have a significant impact on their digital transformation strategy in the short term, whilst 78% said the pandemic has made it more important for them to proceed with their digital transformation strategies.
Digital transformation can help companies be more responsive and more agile during crises, and can also help them rapidly pivot their product offering to move away from international to domestic travel whilst borders remain closed. We predict that those companies that come out of the crisis stronger and ready to do business will be those who already have their technology stack in place.
Few Travel Companies Are Ahead of the Curve
We didn’t really need telling about this next bit, but it was still good to see the numbers! Of those surveyed, only 28% felt they were ahead of the competition when it came to digital transformation, with 71% saying they were either keeping up or behind. We’re pretty sure that it’s the 28% who will be leading the way when travel bounces back, as it undoubtedly will.
There are several reasons why travel companies feel unable to get to grips with new tech. For larger companies, rolling out new tech across large teams and different offices is a huge undertaking. Also, keeping up to date with the rapid pace of change and the growing range of solutions can be a headache. many travel companies have legacy systems that are a key part of the business and which need to be integrated with new solutions, which takes further time and money. And of course introducing new tech, whatever size your company is, requires some upheaval, change management and staff training.
The Customer Experience Remains Top Priority
Whatever the stage of their digital transformation journey, one thing that pretty much all respondents conveyed was that delighting and retaining customers is key to their success. “Provide consistent and high-quality customer experiences”, “Deepen customer relationships” and “Increase customer retention” were three of the top four stated business priorities for 2020, and the only way to achieve these at scale is to use technology.
Customers are more digitally-savvy than ever before, more so after COVID-19 and the resultant increase in the use of Zoom calls, food ordering apps, track & trace solutions etc. People are more comfortable with tech than ever and they don’t just desire it from the travel industry – they now expect it. They’re also used to the quick, immediate booking process provided by OTAs and the old DMC model of taking hours/days to respond to a quote enquiry is on its last legs.
Travel Is Underusing Data Analytics
With digital transformation comes lots & lots of lovely, usable customer data – indeed, digital analytics is the number one area companies are planning to invest in in the next 12 months, with nearly 75% saying data analytics is very important or critical to the success of their business.
However, the desire does not currently match the reality! More than half of the respondents said their company’s data strategy was average or worse, with only a third claiming to be successful at using customer data analysis to make better business decisions.
The Cloud is Where It’s At!
Of the companies surveyed, 88% are either in the cloud already or planning to move their, with a mere 12% holding out and keeping their software in-house. The top three reasons for going cloud-based were better business flexibility and agility, easier scalability, and an enhanced customer experience. A mere 3% disagreed with the idea that cloud computing helps improve the customer experience and optimise the company’s operations.
With its lower costs, greater flexibility, scalability and security, and easier implementation, there is no doubt that the cloud is here to stay, and it’s not a question of if your travel business will move, but when.
eRoam is at the forefront of helping travel businesses digitally transform themselves to deal with the unique challenges 2020 has presented. Our cloud-based solution is affordable, easy to implement and simple to use, and helps companies provide a much better customer experience and harvest valuable behavioural data. To try eRoam for yourself, click here to sign up for a free trial.