Travel and Technology: Keeping Us Apart, but Together

Author: Katrina Leung, Managing Director, Messe Berlin (Singapore)

Through all the difficulties of 2020, the travel industry has shown great resilience. Those who work in our industry have remained optimistic and have gone out of their way to help customers and peers, despite the many uncertainties in their way. For many, this has not come as a surprise after all, our industry is renowned for its people and their quality of service. Throughout the pandemic, our people have adapted to the new normal and the ever-changing work environment, and technology has played an important role in this transition.

It has provided an outlet for customer service across multiple geographies and time zones. It is also increasingly being looked to as an example of where tech is accelerating the customer experience. But beyond the pandemic, technology was already having a monumental impact on all elements of the travel industry by redefining the future of travel in all its forms and overhauling the end-to-end customer experience for travellers around the world.

Reinventing travel in the new normal

As countries across the world gradually reopen borders, we continue to navigate towards the ‘new normal’. Digitalisation and technology have become so intertwined with our way of living and conducting business over the months. For the travel industry, this goes beyond helping to bring back visitors safely, but also contributes to the planning and redeveloping of strategies as part of moving ahead.

While technology will continue to play an ever-important role in our industry moving forward, there is no doubt that the travel ecosystem will require a joint reliance on people and technology. What, however, is still being questioned, is what that future might look like? That is why we have made Reinventing Travel in the New Normal the theme of this year’s ITB Asia 2020 Virtual, with Travel Tech Asia being one of our six core speaker tracks.

Photo of Travel & Technology Showcase theatre at ITB Asia 2019

 

Just as the travel industry has had to adapt, so too has the events industry, and this year’s event will be held online for the first time in its 13-year history. While we will, of course, miss the face-to-face networking, catching-up with old peers and forging new connections, we are embracing the change with the new format allowing more people than ever before to join us across different geographies.

The Travel Tech Asia attendees will hear from industry renowned speakers from Accenture, Amadeus, Google, Oracle Hospitality, RateGain, SAP Concur and more, who will explore which technologies will define the future of travel, as well as the tech trends that are taking off now and helping to keep the industry moving.

Bringing us closer together, remotely

One topic that this year’s speakers are set to explore is the role technology plays in bringing us back together.

To reduce human contact, hotels, visitor centres, attractions and even restaurants have used tech to temporarily replace services previously provided through human interactions, such as answering guest enquiries, placing orders, or making bookings. Digitalisation has not only increased staff and visitor safety, but also supplemented quality service. Customers now enjoy greater convenience for services at the touch of their fingertips, and staff can focus on other important tasks.

In being able to track human movement, we are seeing countries start to resume daily commuting and outings. Technology has also further powered human interaction, albeit virtually, as we continue to connect with one another despite travel restrictions. Collaboration platforms such as video conferencing tools have made it possible for people across the world to continue meeting, in a time when travel and interaction seems almost impossible.

Technology has also allowed people around the world to fill in for the missing physical presence we have all felt. Virtual reality, augmented reality and even simple video conferencing tools have temporarily satiated the hunger of travel-starved travellers by offering virtual tours to those unable to explore new places due to travel restrictions. We may see a future in hybrid formats; a new model of tours/events with digital enhancements complementing physical experiences for travellers to enjoy a holistic travel experience.

Lastly, we see technology powering the analysis, planning, and forecasting for businesses on the back end. In an uncertain climate where the situation continues to evolve daily, it is hard to predict what the next day, much less the next week can bring. The combined power of artificial intelligence and big data has allowed businesses to predict trends, track performance, visualise scenarios and adjust tactics and strategies. Data analytics has meant businesses can sort through and make sense of loads of data, drawing insights to recalibrate and optimise their offerings.

The travel sector continues to navigate the effects of COVID-19; however, embracing technology and its long-term and positive impacts on travel will certainly help with future strategies.

We look forward to welcoming you at this year’s ITB Asia 2020 Virtual. To find out more about this year’s event and how you can join us, visit our website here: www.itb-community.com/itb-asia-2020-virtual.

Note: This article was originally posted on MICE in Asia’s website.


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