Tech­nol­ogy con­nects, so does travel

Travel is go­ing through a myr­iad changes ow­ing to the evolv­ing tech­nol­ogy and the cor­re­spond­ing new-age cus­tomer. Travel agents are now ques­tion­ing the sur­vival of the off­line mode of busi­ness in this dig­i­tal age. Ex­perts and key stake­hold­ers of the trave

TravTalk - India - - VIEWPOINT -

Tech­nol­ogy has changed the game in the travel in­dus­try and many travel agents are strug­gling to adapt to this change. There is fear of sur­vival in the mar­ket. What ac­cord­ing to you is the di­rec­tion to take in or­der to cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for busi­ness?

There are three el­e­ments of change- the mag­ni­tude of change, the fre­quency of change and the pre­dictabil­ity of change. Over the past twothree years, the mag­ni­tude and fre­quency have moved from high to low. Though a lot of things are un­der wraps, no break­through will hap­pen at the drop of a hat. How­ever, pre­dictabil­ity of change is the space where risk and op­por­tu­nity both re­side. One way to tackle this is through in­cu­ba­tion cells. I feel we could in­vest in new star­tups to keep a track of new tech­nol­ogy com­ing up in the mar­ket. To­day, the rel­e­vance of a travel agent is de­cided by the cus­tomer. The travel mar­ket is only in­creas­ing and in­for­ma­tion is avail­able at a click of a but­ton. It is up to the in­dus­try to ac­cept, adopt and adapt to the chang­ing cus­tomer. If the travel agents can pro­vide a level of ser­vice far bet­ter than any­one else, then there is no ques­tion of their sur­vival. If one tries to be­come Make My Trip and Ya­tra for the sake of go­ing on­line and make a web­site to fol­low the e-com­merce wave, then that is a mis­take. To be­come a dig­i­tal gi­ant takes a lot of in­vest­ment and re­search. I am not wor­ried about change be­cause this will be a con­stant fea­ture. There will be com­pa­nies which can dis­rupt the cur­rent func­tion­ing. There has to be a risk tak­ing ap­petite and travel agents need to be open -minded to spend cap­i­tal be­hind tech­nol­ogy. In­tel­lec­tual tech­nol­ogy is im­por­tant but not cheap and one has to un­der­stand that there is cap­i­tal in­vest­ment be­hind build­ing, in­no­vat­ing and main­tain­ing tech­nol­ogy. You have to find the niche to own the cus­tomer. Ac­qui­si­tion has be­come the way for­ward as no one is build­ing new things now. I be­lieve that tech­nol­ogy is def­i­nitely chang­ing the game in travel and cre­at­ing one’s niche in the in­dus­try is the way for­ward to evolve. Busi­ness mar­gins are shrink­ing and it is im­por­tant that travel agents in­tro­spect into their busi­ness mod­els. In­vest in tech­nol­ogy; one does not have to rein­vent the wheel again and again; the agents can make use of the tech­nol­ogy al­ready avail­able in the mar­ket but put it to bet­ter use. Risk tak­ing ap­petite is nec­es­sary as one has to ex­plore and di­ver­sify the seg­ment of travel. The out­bound travel mar­ket in In­dia is very ma­ture and the trade too is quite ad­vanced. This is why un­der­stand­ing the on­line travel trade is the way for­ward. The most re­cent change is the shift of mar­ket­ing strate­gies on the so­cial plat­form. One has to un­der­stand that so­cial me­dia is not just about up­load­ing pic­tures and sta­tus on Face­book and In­sta­gram. They are ac­tu­ally tools to do busi­ness as well. Con­tent is the rul­ing el­e­ment to keep your cus­tomers en­gaged and in­vest­ment in tech­nol­ogy is in­evitable.

Guldeep Singh Sahni In­dia Travel Award win­ner and Pres­i­dent, OTOAI

Su­manth Kapoor Head-Strat­egy, Iden­tity and Cit­i­zen Ser­vices, VFS Global

Ankush Ni­jhawan In­dia Travel Award winer and MD, Ni­jhawan Group

Hi­man­shu Patil Di­rec­tor, Ke­sari Tours, In­dia Travel Award win­ner

Jaal Shah Group MD,, In­dia Travel Award win­ner

Nikhil Dho­dap­ker CEO, TUI In­dia

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