Is travel technology about staying ahead of the trends or shaping them? Tony Carter, managing director of Amadeus, IT Pacific, tells us how we can capitalize on constantly evolving opportunities in the future of travel.
As someone who has worked in the travel industry in both Asia and Australia for 22 years, you’ve clearly seen a lot of major shifts in your time.
It’s changed dramatically. From the time of big, clunky ticket printers all the way through to e-ticketing. Amadeus is a big believer in efficiency and automation, and the shift in ticketing one of the great examples of changes across the industry, with the industry working together.
How is the enormous growth out of Asia impacting tourism in Australia?
From a leisure perspective, the increase of economic power from China and India is creating a huge new middle class that, for the first time ever, is able to travel. When they travel for the first time, they are looking for areas like Australia that are close by. And so we’re going to be a generous recipient of travel from those regions.
Amadeus has identified “tribes” in the future of travel. Where do these new travelers fit in?
Our recent whitepaper, “Future Traveller Tribes 2030,” identifies six traveler tribes emerging by end of the next decade. The new travelers from this middle class could be so-called “simplicity seekers.” They want somebody to prepare all of the travel for them because they’re inexperienced and they want someone to take that risk away.
Does the concept of simplicity seekers refer to packaged or group tours, or another type of travel?
It means they are happy to outsource the organization to a travel agent, whether it’s online or brick-and-mortar. They are willing to share a lot of information about themselves and therefore technology becomes an increasingly important aspect in how to service those travelers.
Don’t miss Tony Carter’s presentation on “Connectivity: Future Traveller Tribes: Building a More Rewarding Journey,” coming up at the PATA Global Insights Conference 2015 on October 16.
Is this wave of incoming travelers skewing younger in recent years?
I wouldn’t say it’s an age-based thing, but rather a preference thing. Busy people are also simplicity seekers. First-time travelers may be young or old. People who have families are also simplicity seekers because it’s a little more of a challenge to organize travel.
Amadeus has also pinpointed an interesting trend: opportunities in the post-trip stage when travelers have returned home.
On average, 25 percent of travelers begin planning their next trip as soon as they get back from their current trip. If you’re a travel provider or a travel agency, that’s the best time to begin talking about the next one.
What are some strategies for that?
We’re in the age of traveler power. Unlike any time in the past, travelers have more options for travel and they have more information at their fingertips. For organizations to capitalize on that, we believe the key is personalization. Using information after the trip about demographics, booking behavior, where they went, who they flew with.
With behaviors changing so quickly, how do you keep up with the technology to stay on top of it?
We spend a significant amount of money on research and development. I think the figure was around €560 million last year. Traditionally, we’re known as a GDS, but we’ve been doing more than that for a long time. We’re now doing IT systems for airports, mobile solutions, payment solutions, business intelligence solutions. It’s not just focusing on one area, but across the entire industry.
How much effort is Amadeus putting into mobile technology?
We’re looking at a number of search technologies and upgrading our content providers to do full door-to-door search and booking. Some Asian countries have leapfrogged over desktop PCs. Villages went from not having any telephones or Internet to being connected wirelessly with mobile devices, so mobile has become a significant part of the future.
Do you consider Amadeus to be a disruptor in the industry, or simply a problem solver?
From a perspective of being at the forefront of development and what customers need, I think we are a disruptor. But in my opinion, the most disruptive thing in the industry at the moment is the power that travelers have. Travelers have never had so much power, choice, knowledge, or opportunity and they’re the ones driving things forward as much as the technology providers. We’re a big believer in the travel ecosystem: It’s about the whole travel industry working together to make the experience of travel better.
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