Travel agencies know this. Innovation is no longer an option, but a constant obligation and a business imperative to compete in today's hectic environment where change is the new norm. However, their efforts in this area often go unnoticed by customers.
What are we doing wrong in the tourism sector that customers do not perceive this innovation?
According to the conclusions of the latest Spanish Travel Agencies Innovation Report by Amadeus, Braintrust and Segitur, three out of four agencies consider that the innovations they are carrying out in their company fit with the needs demanded by travellers. However, they still see agencies lagging behind other sectors such as banking, retail or distribution.
These cutting-edge sectors, where new e-commerce routines, new channels of interaction with customers and new business areas that have a direct impact on users' daily lives are continually being developed, are influencing the tourism sector by "creating" a new, more demanding type of traveller who rewards immediacy and convenience.
Independent and self-driven travellers
Today's customer in the tourism sector, invaded by what we can call "the Amazon effect", wants everything here and now, from the comfort of their home or mobile phone. Their tendency towards self-management and their eagerness for technology leads them to demand a multi-channel, personalised and immediate experience, where they feel they have full control of the process while being treated in a differential way and according to their personal needs and tastes.
The great efforts in innovation that agencies make in that part of the business that they cannot see are of little use to them. The improvement of processes, internal technology, management... is not what they demand, although without knowing it, they do need it.
This new traveller wants a "wow" shopping experience. That whatever goes behind this experience works well, or much better than before, is something that goes without saying.
Reaching the customer's mind with our innovations, the new challenge
According to the 2nd IIAVE Report, experts and other industry players do recognise the very high progress agencies are making in innovation, which indicates that things are being done well.
The challenge now is to convey this message also to travellers and to ensure that these innovations are not only seen, but also perceived, and positively valued, by them.
Reversing the figures so that the 37.5% of travellers who say that the innovations carried out by agencies are not adapted to what they need, become 0. Offering a digitised consumer experience applied to travel, making improvements in the analysis and management of Big Data to anticipate customer expectations and maximise their satisfaction or being creative by offering special added services that help agencies to be perceived as innovative and differential, may be the way forward.
Let's look at what sectors such as banking have done, launching applications that are apparently far removed from their usual services, but which help them to have a positive impact on their potential customers while gathering interesting data to be able to approach them correctly with personalised offers. Or the diversification of Amazon itself based on exhaustive data analysis in what is known as the "culture of metrics".
Travel agencies will survive, expand their space and increase their market share.
In the world of travel agencies, we already have the basis. Innovation is already part of the industry's DNA and advances are continually being made. Now we just need to know how to apply this innovation to be able to show it to the end customer.
And the agencies will know how to evolve as they have done so far, expanding their space, showing a high added value for a traveller who is looking for personalisation, advice and security in their trips, in short, improving their Customer Experience in a mass market.