Published on : Thursday, June 11, 2020
Travel industry experts recently revealed at Travel Forward’s ATM Virtual debut that messaging platforms would serve as a key tool for travel and hospitality brands to communicate with consumers. It was mentioned that in light of the COVID-19 pandemic when face to face communication has become almost impossible, consumers have resorted to messaging in order to interact with all forms of travel brands from airlines to hotels and resorts, among others. Therefore, messaging platforms have recently turned into the evolving face of travel technology.
According to reports, messaging activity increased by more than 50% in several countries majorly affected by the coronavirus crisis during the month of March, alone. As reported by Facebook, more 20 billion messages are being exchanged with businesses every month on Messenger, at present. An insight on the future of travel technology beyond 2020 and the role of potential c-commerce in helping travel and hospitality brands to connect and transact with consumers was provided by experts during the Travel Forward session, ‘Conversational Commerce for Travel Brands.’
Sara Gentile, Head of Destinations & Events, Facebook mentioned that travellers value personalisation more than brands and the trend is expected to heighten in a post-pandemic world. She informed that around 54% of travellers opt to book with online travel agents (OTAs) seeking on-location recognition from brands. She also shared that live updates, discounts and helpful tips are the top three engagement travellers seek from aviation and hospitality brands.
She also said that brands can target information and offers precisely to individual travellers by combining chat with automated and AI-driven systems. She mentioned that such actions increases relevance and it is exactly what people look forward to as an overwhelming majority is likely to make purchase from brands that remember their identity and provide relevant recommendations based on the same.
Ameen Malhas, Head of Aviation & Hospitality, MENA added that amid the current challenging times, messaging must be responsive and sophisticated to meet consumers’ needs as travellers look forward to fast and efficient interactions. He shared that a messaging system which is executed correctly can be a powerful and convenient tool for engaging consumers and driving purchase intent.
He mentioned that an ideal messaging platform should be built around a strong ecosystem and have a clear strategic role and should also possess the capability of anticipating consumers want to talk about with the help of innovative technologies such as Artificial Intelligence.
Heidi Myers, Head of Marketing, EMEA, Uber for Business discussed during the final session of second day, ‘Technology and the New Normal’ that technology can be a force for good and support businesses in the challenge of the ‘new normal’ that the industry is starting to embrace. She shared that Uber has always prioritised safety f customers and employees and hence a number of strict health and safety procedures have been implemented line with government and public health authority guidance in the regions of operations. She informed that usage of face masks have been made mandatory while travelling with Uber, drivers have been trained to maintain proper safety and hygiene and a new Selfie-Verification technology has been introduced to ensure that they are wearing a mask which fully covers their nose and mouth.
Intelak Manager, Mia Jafari also conducted a Travel Foward session on ‘Importance of cross-sector collaboration to ignite economic growth in the tourism industry of MENA region and beyond. The session highlighted how cross-sector collaboration between the government, corporate bodies and start-ups will create the fertile ground for economic growth in the travel sector post COVID-19.