Will big data impact travel to, from and within Asia Pacific nations? Amadeus IT Group is counting on it. Find out the latest developments from Jackson Pek, Vice President and General Counsel, Asia Pacific.
What skills are most critical to manage the influx of travelers in Asia Pacific?
Customer centricity — putting the traveler at the center of everything you do — will be the best way to meet the needs of travelers to Asia Pacific. Ultimately, no two travelers are the same, and no two journeys will be the same. We’re different on each journey we take, be it for leisure, business, a luxury trip, or a backpacking holiday. Plus, travelers of today are becoming savvier and better informed, which means every engagement point matters.
What are travelers looking for today?
Expectations have moved past personalization and they now expect travel providers to be more timely and intuitive to shape their individual experience. Cultivating relationships and embracing each traveler’s individuality should be the priority.
How has Amadeus IT Group adopted that philosophy?
We feel there are six things that today’s traveler really wants from the travel industry. We call it the “Journey of Me.” This is about me, as a traveler, wanting to feel that the industry makes an effort to Know Me, as well as Inspire, Connect, Talk to, Delight and Care for Me. Travel professionals that can do this will be well on their way to delivering a great customer-focused service.
Amadeus has long been a leader in the travel industry, but do you also see it being a disruptor?
Absolutely! I truly believe that Amadeus has been a disruptor for many years and that is, in fact, what has enabled us to be a leader. To me disruption is about being innovative and doing things differently, and we’ve always delivered on that with the technology we’ve brought to the industry.
In fact we were born as a disruptor, from our inception as the new GDS on the block in 1987. We then changed the game in 2000 with the launch of the Amadeus Altéa Passenger Service System and, more recently, we’ve diversified into new areas such as Payments, Travel Intelligence and the APAC travel tech startup community with Amadeus Next. All of these developments are about staying ahead of the curve, allowing us to respond to rapidly evolving customer and traveler needs with great technology.
How do you see technology helping to streamline the travel experience?
In many countries across Asia Pacific we’ve seen a leapfrog to mobile; in fact, in some places they’ve skipped the desktop altogether. Now mobile is the second skin for many people in nearly every part of the region, and that means access to travel. Mobile has opened up so many options for searching, booking, sharing, collecting data and getting inspired to travel — things that just weren’t possible before, particularly in less-developed areas.
We’re also seeing technology trends such as virtual and augmented reality, which are helping to connect with and inspire travelers in new ways. It’s bringing the magic of travel right to the device that people have in their hands.
How can travel providers utilize Big Data?
Insights lead to understanding. Using Big Data, travel providers can understand the dynamics and trends underpinning their business, allowing them to identify and predict early changes in traveler behavior to offer new products and services. Commercial and investment strategies can also be enhanced by gaining additional insights into competitor activity and trends. Decision-making can be improved as overlapping datasets can help to bridge the gaps that currently exist in static datasets. There really is a lot we can do with data!
For example, travel agencies using Amadeus applications can get a better understanding into the most popular routes and travel times that customers in a given market are searching for. Using this data, agencies can then create new sales opportunities by adapting their promotional strategies. They can also craft effective campaigns throughout the year by identifying seasonal search trends. Similarly, airlines can identify their customers’ loyalty rates and purchase patterns through Amadeus functionality.
Can too much data ever get in the way of organic storytelling?
I don’t think there’s such a thing as too much data — the challenge is what you do with that data! When it comes to storytelling, I actually think data can help to tell the most captivating stories. It can help support or validate the point you want to get across, by giving it some weight, and it often helps connect different parts of the story.
Data can also help you understand your audience to tailor your story and make it resonate. If you know who you’re talking to and you’ve got the data to back up what you’re saying, all you need is a great storyteller to bring it to life.
Do you have any concerns about how rapidly travel to Asia is growing?
Sure, rapid growth can be a concern if it’s purely for growth’s sake and it’s managed poorly. What I think is crucial here is collaboration. If we all in the travel industry work together with a common vision, then opportunities will outweigh any concerns.
For example, if airlines, airports, tourism boards, governments, hotels and other players in the industry work together towards sustainable tourism, then we can harness the huge growth in an ethical way without it becoming detrimental to local communities and cultures. Amadeus sits in the middle of all these players in the travel ecosystem, so we do see ourselves as having a pretty important role in making this happen.
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