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
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, RezLive.com, India Travel Award winner
Nikhil Dhodapker CEO, TUI India