Friday, 10 July 2015

Technology in the Travel Industry

A couple of years back I wrote a report for college on the impact of ICT application in the Travel/Tourism industry. I wrote about how I felt that the industry, and travel agents in particular, seemed slow to adapt and evolve with new trends and technologies. I wrote how the industry was playing catch up somewhat, but looked to be getting up to speed.

It's been two years now since I wrote that report, and things seem to be quite a bit better, travel agencies and tourism bodies are much better with their adaptation of social media , websites are much more modern and attractive looking, and it would be very hard to find a company that doesn't have an app or mobile friendly website for its customers.

Portman Travel has recently updated the website

Social Media has become almost an essential part of the customer service experience. Travel agents, airlines, hotels etc are all interacting well with their customers. Many airlines and tourism groups have designated Social Media Managers to look after their Facebook and Twitter accounts and they do a good job (mostly) of providing excellent customer service and promoting their brand. It is necessary for any company these days, who claim to have excellent customer service, to have staff dedicated to monitoring and interacting with customers through social media, if they want to be viewed as up to date. This is evidence of the industry catching up very quickly, and in terms of Social Media use, getting ahead slightly. If you look at the Ryanair twitter account, they are very good at promoting themselves (their occasional arguments with Aer Lingus are very entertaining).

Shade throwing at its finest!

The one part of the industry which still is slightly behind the rest is the travel agents booking engine. The GDS has been around for a long time now, they have changed slightly over time, but largely are still not the most user-friendly way of booking. You still need an awful lot of knowledge and training to fully understand and use the various GDS systems, they are a skill that takes time to master.

This is a traditional GDS (Galileo) screen
I spent time in college learning the basics of Galileo, and have been exposed to it in a working environment for over a year now and I still don't know it all. Shortly, I may not have to use it at all. I'm lucky enough to be working in a company that has taken a massive leap forward in this area, Portman Travel have developed a web-based booking engine which has nearly all the functionality of the GDS with none of the jargon. This is what I have been using primarily since I started here and it has made my life an awful lot easier.

I don't think think it will be long before other agencies, or even the GDS companies themselves, follow along these lines. For now, it's nice to be at the forefront in the industry.

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