What are the steps to identify the most appropriate Travel Technology strategy in the different phases of travel business? This is what we talked about in our last post.
In this post, we talk about the most practical approach to implement technology for start-ups and growing travel organization. Forerunners in the travel industry have built exemplary technology strategies in their early days that helped them sustain and grow.
How can new and growing travel companies create an early niche through the right technology adoption strategy? Read on.
In the last 5 years, significant VC funding in travel was invested on transforming a travel agency into an OTA that ultimately competed in the same red ocean of general content, deep discounts and run of the mill booking services. What good did it do? All of a sudden a small albeit decently performing brick and motor travel agency find itself competing with the giants in the OTA market! I am sure you will agree that the business created has a very little chance of survival!
Exactly that is what has happened! Most of the start-ups have failed. Investors are getting weary!
I have great and complete respect for new entrepreneurial passion & vision for creating something ‘big’ in the online travel space. However, to do so, it is important, to understand, how your organization can use technology to realize your vision.
As your business grow and pass through different stages, purpose of technology changes. You need to know where you are, how much you want to grow, and how soon you want to do it. Accordingly identify the best travel technology that serves your purpose.
Technology is to provide your business with flexibility and scalability. Technology it not the guiding force, it’s a facilitator. Technology should be customized and molded as per your vision of running the business. Technology and innovation should go hand in hand.
To start with, a business must understand its own customer’s needs and demands. Let’s look at few Brands, and learn how they are leading the way with exemplary technology strategies to address customer needs:
Use technology to offer consumers experiences, not just destinations:
The domestic travel ecosystem is going through a transition; today travelers are looking for experiences rather than destinations. As a start-up, it is more important to be able to create and offer experiences and not just air tickets, hotel rooms and cars or excursions. When selecting a technology platform make sure it provides you with the flexibility to showcase your own negotiated & niche inventory, create offers, deals, customized packages and offerings that clearly ring out your unique niche. Let’s look at few successful online travel businesses and see how they have carved a niche for themselves.
Ixigo.com and Cleartrip focus more on products that offer quick travel experiences and things to do. They provide options of weekend getaways, advises a customer on things to do in and around a city. The main crux is to engage the customer and provide them with easy, fast and experience driven travel offerings.
Use technology to ramp up your customer service efficiency:
Try this, ask your customers about a time they really liked the process of shopping for a travel product or a service, and 70% of the time the answer will be, when they were served with speed and accuracy. Having to wait to be served is a sure deterrent; your customer won’t like to be kept waiting in a queue or on hold while speaking to your customer support team.
While selecting a technology platform you should make sure the CRM (customer relationship management) capabilities are robust, it should provide you with fast, easy and accurate real time customer information enabling you to serve your customer quickly and professionally.
Goibibo, a suite of online travel sites launched few years back (September 2009), and now already among the top full service online travel agencies in India. They are a company with great technology and a smaller workforce. The focus is serving customers ‘fastest’ in the market.
Use technology to reduce your overhead and make life simpler:
Your Mid/Back Office should be your mission control and not mission impossible. The technology you choose should be able to reduce your mid and Back Office overheads allowing you the freedom to focus on business strategies that create value and a niche.
And finally, technology that is affordable:
Here is a thought. How can Gmail, a technology that is gut-wrenchingly complex, be free? Before you start screaming ‘Google’s ad revenues’, the point I am making is that even complex technologies can be cost effective through the use of pay per use pricing models that cloud based booking technologies offers.
It is not necessary to invest on huge infrastructures & enterprise technical solutions unless you are precisely that, a large enterprise. Today the wisest decision for an innovative and niche travel business is to choose a hosted or SaaS based technology that can be customized to a great extent.
To conclude, looking at the current trends, it is clear that today’s travel businesses need a technology that will enable them to do what they are good at and help them to add innovation. The OTA market is almost saturated with battle raging between the “Big 4” i.e. Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline and Orbitz, with their mammoth marketing and advertising budgets.
For those companies where the funds are tight and resources limited, the key to success surely lies in using technology strategically to carve a niche for your business and create a differentiator in the products and offerings.
N.B: This post has been written by Koeli Chatterjee. Koeli serves as Head Marketing at Tavisca. You can directly reach Koeli at – firstname.lastname@example.org