Held on 26th and 27th February, this was the first time Awin had attended Europe’s Travel Technology Event (TTE). TE is one of the largest travel industry gatherings, with over 5000 attendees and two events (Business Travel and TTE) spanning two floors of London’s Olympia. Each floor offered the opportunity to meet and network with exhibitors, enjoy conferences packed with relevant and futuristic content, and tech huddle zones for those brave enough to join the interactive sessions.
Discussions focused on the online world for travel and 40% of travel bookings are made online. Attendees across the industry put their heads together to tackle the challenge of bringing the in store customers to transact online, whilst still getting the same omni-channel brand experience. It was reassuring to hear many challenges and opportunities that resonate with our own channel.
Travellers crave personalisation and inspiration
The customer is firmly at the heart of the travel industry. Industry efforts are concentrated on understanding the end customer and how to offer them a tailored, relevant and enjoyable travel experience end to end.
Personalisation was debated in almost every session. Data is being used to understand customer trends to help drive personalisation, from top destinations (US for long haul and Spain for short haul according to TravelTek) to trends relating to the age of the traveller. The travel industry are seeing a rise in what they have coined the ‘skip generation’. This term relates to grandparents who are taking their grandchildren on holiday. The assumption is that the grandparents of today do not want the simple beach break they craved in years previous but instead want to explore and make lasting memories with their families. Imagery is key for customers in the travel space; its fuels their inspiration and desire to get a trip booked. Proving this, a 2018 study by Schofields found that over 40% of people under 33 choose their next holiday destination based on its instagrammability.
Sustainability is front on mind within the travel sector
I would challenge anyone to find an industry that isn’t debating the importance of becoming more environmentally-conscious, with sustainability being another hot topic at TTE. Not only is every company within the travel space looking to reduce the impact their business has on our planet but each customer is also looking to change their own behaviour for the better. Travellers are looking to reduce their carbon footprint and as a result are looking to go on less trips, as well as alternatives from flying such as trips via trains. Millennials, whether in full-time education or working freelance, and older generations are extending their trips and spending more time in one place. Staying for a longer period of time in one destination allows travellers to really get to know the culture of the destination, in addition to reducing the desire for lots of shorter trips throughout the year.
The future of the travel industry
The two days ended with the final speakers giving a nod to the future. In 2020 and beyond, the environmental impact of travel will continue to be at the forefront of companies’ and customers’ minds when it comes to trips, holidays and activities. This year will be the tipping point from consideration to real change. From a consumer perspective, experiential travel will continue to rise, with travellers today moving away from the traditional sand-bucket holidays and instead craving itinerary based trips to fuel their desire to explore. From a travel technology perspective, the trends to watch out for this decade are the continuation of automation and robotics, with a desire to remove human error, allow for scalability, and offer solutions to problems customers face in travel today.
Another global factor undoubtedly shaping conversations at TTE was the Coronavirus. The travel industry entered January 2020 with an increased year-on-year performance, but bookings began to lose pace as the news of Coronavirus hit. Travel companies are expected to see this impact continue alongside a continued rise in traveller queries looking for advice on upcoming trips.
Overall, it was a truly insightful and engaging event that Awin will certainly be returning to next year. We look forward to seeing how some of the predicted trends unfold throughout 2020.