Amadeus, a leading travel technology partner and transaction processor for the global travel and tourism industry, hosted a panel discussion recently in Dubai which examined the future of the travel industry and the role of technology in its development.
The panel, consisting of key market players, concluded that the rise of online technology in particular has had an impact on the traditional forms of selling travel, however, firms are adapting to the changes with travel agents embracing new ways of connecting with customers.
The panel, made up of Omar Ahmad, CEO, Joob.com; Asim Arshad, CEO, Orient Travel; Roland Bunge, General Manager (Commercial) Kanoo Travel; Albert Pozo, VP, Multinational Business & Corporate Travel, Amadeus; and Joerg Schuler, Director Marketing & Operations WEMEA, Amadeus, looked at the changing role of travel agents, in addition to how the market in the Middle East is still very different from other areas.
“The travel industry has been transforming for the past decade, with the role of technology playing an ever increasing part, and it is vital to see how businesses are responding and adapting to this. By discussing the issues facing companies in the industry, we gain a better insight of the direction the industry is going in,” said Albert Pozo, VP, Multinational Business & Corporate Travel, Amadeus.
“The Middle East market is based mainly upon air travel due to the large expatriate populations. Although the internet penetration in the region is higher than world average, its impact on booking generations has been low due to various reasons – one being the large labour force that still requires face-to-face dealings at travel agencies and non-credit card payment options, and the fact that customers prefer face to face interactions whilst booking their travel,” he added.
Analysing the past 10 years and forecasting the coming decade, the panellists see the travel service landscape being very different in the future. The big questions posed involved the rise of web-based technology in selling travel to customers, and how this has affected the way in which agents connect with customers. Conclusions were drawn that travel agents will be around for years to come, but the demand of online travel booking is rising and that customers who are still using agents regularly are often researching extensively before booking.
The panel also looked at the role of social media and mobile technology in the travel sector. All agreed that although it does not play a particularly significant part in the industry currently, it will become more prominent in the future. The main issue is how to bring in revenue using social media, and how the likes of Foursquare are beginning to bring technology and making revenue closer together.