Speaking recently at the TravelDaily 2009 China Travel Distribution Summit held in Shenzhen, China, Akeroyd identified the four key ‘pain points’ in the customer’s travel experience. He also recommended technological solutions that travel players can adopt to efficiently address these challenges to compete in today’s competitive and challenging marketplace.
“Empowered by the Internet, travellers are more knowledgeable and adventurous than ever before. All travellers, even those from emerging markets, have high expectations of their travel service providers in terms of the planning and booking process, as well as the travel experience itself,” said Akeroyd. “In order to be able to compete effectively, it is paramount that travel players ensure that their product delivery and service offerings are well executed at all customer points of contact. Technology is one of the ways they can achieve this in an effective and efficient manner.”
Akeroyd identified the four top hurdles at customer points of contact, and made recommendations on how travel players can utilise technology to address these challenges.
1. Too many clicks in the online booking process
The online booking experience should be as painless as possible. Travel websites must be user-friendly and provide an integrated and seamless online shopping experience. Search mechanisms on websites should be more intuitive, enabling consumers to search by budget, type of activity, or geography, rather than only by a pre-determined destination and date. Search results should be in real-time and deliver a range of options on a single page. In an industry-first, Amadeus has brought this new concept to life with the Amadeus Affinity Shopper, which enables travellers to shop on airline websites according to their budget or preferred type of activity.
With so much information available at their fingertips on the Internet, travellers are increasingly going to their travel agents with the answers to their own questions. This means travel agents must maintain an expert level of travel knowledge and have all the necessary information in front of them. Amadeus One, a unique Web-based, multi-source and fully customisable desktop solution, enables travel agents to pull up and view a wide range of useful information, even from third-party systems.
3. Long waiting time at airport check-in
Nobody enjoys long periods spent waiting at airport check in, particularly business travellers who are particularly time-conscious. This can cause great frustration for airline customers. The solution is to utilise mobile devices to enable travellers to complete check-in processes before arrival at the airport. Amadeus is investing heavily in the development of a range of mobile solutions that enable mobile check in and boarding pass functionality.
4. Flight interruptions handled badly
One of the worst nightmares for any traveller is to miss a flight connection. When such incidences occur, they are often not handled very effectively, causing affected passengers more frustration and disappointment. Technology can help to minimise passenger delay and frustration. The Amadeus Altéa system, which is an end-to-end Customer Management System (CMS), automatically re-books passengers on the next available flight, even before they land.
Amadeus has central sites in Madrid (corporate headquarters & marketing), Nice (development) and Erding (Operations – data processing centre) and regional offices in Miami, Buenos Aires, Bangkok and Dubai. At market level, Amadeus maintains customer operations through 71 local Amadeus Commercial Organisation covering 219 markets.
The company is majority owned by WAM Acquisition, whose shareholders are BC Partners, Cinven, Air France, Iberia and Lufthansa. Amadeus employs over 8,900 employees worldwide, representing 105 nationalities. More information about Amadeus is available at: www.amadeus.com.