There has been one recurring message throughout the pandemic – that technology and digitalisation will be the way that travel bounces back after the last 16 months – and that message is still going strong. Those that can deploy scalable, flexible solutions and find ways to (securely) use and manage data flows will be the front runners in the bookings race.

Traveltech is certainly not a new phenomenon, but global lockdowns have accelerated the development and roll-out of new solutions across the travel ecosystem. Open API connections, API interoperability, AI tools, cloud migration and SaaS deployment are all becoming more commonplace in both B2B and B2C solutions.

As a warmup to our upcoming series of traveltech articles, we look at a few of the technologies that COVID-19 has inspired the travel industry to adopt. Some address the more immediate concerns but others are likely to be here to stay:

  • Booking Process Risk Scoring: risk management platforms that use machine learning and AI to track arrival and exit restrictions, flight routes, in-country infection rates and government policies, are used to give a risk score for each itinerary that travel agents can see. Businesses are using these tools to help form their policies on cancellations and refunds and it is a time-saver for agents to have all the information in one place;
  • Cloud Contact Centres:  thepersonal touch of travel agents is what has helped many businesses through the last year, however there are tools available to augment that personalisation instead of transferring the entire conversation to a bot.  Systems can be designed to allow customers to engage with agents through their preferred channel (email, SMS, video), and agents have more connected business systems and single screen solutions to speed up and help manage their customer interactions.  
  • Contactless Check-Ins: to minimise shared touchpoints and limit personal interactions, many more airlines, hotels, transport providers and tourist attractions have created dedicated mobile apps that enable customers to check-in, order and pay for services, all on their own devices. These apps also offer a new sales platform for those businesses as they have a semi-captive audience once the customer has checked-in;
  • Digital Airport Kiosks: Passengers can scan their boarding passes for personalised flight details including boarding time, gate number, the quickest route to the gate and average walking time. These systems can also suggest places to eat or shop and provide details on the latest offers in the airport. This connection with passengers is something airports have been striving for for a number of years.
  • Buy Now Pay Later solutions: even though consumers are reported to have millions of unspent savings following lockdown, many customers are turning to the model of booking now and paying in future instalments. Again, it’s not a new concept but lower upfront costs leading to increased conversion rates for travel merchants at checkout is attractive for both businesses and customers alike.

This list only scratches the surface of the developments out there and so many more are evolving – unique baggage identification, passenger-focused disruption management systems, new pricing and revenue management tools – to name but a few.  In the words of others, the collision of traveller identity, privacy and personalisation demands will drive technology advancements.

Fox Williams is delighted to be sponsoring the Travolution European Summit on 30 September. We hope to see you there.  


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