According to Economic impact reports by World Travel & Tourism Council, Tourism made up 10% of the global GDP in 2019. which is around 9 trillion USD, Such a great driver of global economies was almost standstill in 2020. Even as countries open their borders to travelers, the pandemic has changed the face of travel. It is clear that the impact was widespread and long-lasting for the travel industry and the aviation sector. This is evidenced by how many non-organized and even certain integral players in the travel ecosystem continue to grapple. But in turn, this has allowed an opportunity for big and organized players to fill in the void left behind. Along with organized players, several small and medium companies are also looking at their business differently and their way of doing business.
The Great Big & Gradual Restart
The borders are opening, and businesses are getting ready to host leisure and business travelers. Travelers are gearing back to travel slowly, steadily, and restrictively. Post the pandemic, travelers’ have concerns over matters such as cleanliness, hygiene, social distancing, and as a result of government restrictions the capacity is 50% lower than before. But this also provides the aviation sector an opportunity to pilot smart and relevant ancillary products which can increase revenue.
Technology adoption for catering to the needs of digital-era travelers was already trending in the airline industry pre-pandemic. It will further allow travel, hospitality, and transportation companies to extend their reach and create, provide, and market path-breaking products.
Technology to the Rescue
The travel technology market is estimated to surpass the $ 12 billion mark by 2026 growing at a CAGR of more than 7.7 %. This suggests that aviation, transportation, and other businesses in the travel ecosystem have already accepted the need for new-age technology. Before, the airports were selling themselves as destinations, wanting passengers to spend more time on-premises. The aviation sector was eyeing to increase non-aeronautical revenue to 35-40% from the then existing 25-30%.
In a post-pandemic world where travelers don’t want to be in a crowded place for long, most non-aeronautical revenue still comes from rental and services offered directly at the airports. Now the airports and the airline industry will need a consolidated platform for the sale of those services/products online as well. Integrating vendors and principal agreements with the airline industry for sharing limited passenger data will help reach targeted passengers and increase product sales, enhancing the overall passenger experience.
Airports were already investing in self-service, contactless technologies and will now be imperative to help airports reduce human interactions and manage queues efficiently. Different countries have used technological advantages and introduced digital health passes, digital Ids, etc. International governing authorities, such as WHO, are working closely with nations and aviation authorities to standardize the introduction of health certificate checks at border control. The aviation sector must also adhere to GDPR and CCPA data prevention regulations while integrating with these authorities. Airports need capabilities to process this information smartly and securely to help government authorities administer quarantine rules and contact tracing.
The airline industry, on the other hand, is struggling to manage schedules with reduced capacity, stricter government regulations, reluctant travelers, and ever-changing dynamics. These integrations with airports and governments will add to airlines’ ancillary kits. The traditional service is not expected to change overnight. But today’s technology can help airlines, airports, and all travel-specific businesses revamp their models to cater to a transformed consumer.
Predicting the Post-Pandemic Travel Ecosystem – Airport and Airlines
The use of new-age cloud scalable platforms, configurable rule defined, smart Artificial Intelligence, and Business Intelligence tools will make a vital difference in recovery. These engines will need to be updated with new regulations and passenger behaviors in the coming months. For the travel and airlines industry, technology spending will be targeted at updating existing systems and introducing new integrations and self-service devices. Certain back-end operations will need a technology up-gradation to handle the onslaught of new demands and rising consumer queries. Increasing predictive analysis for and processing of historical and current trends will allow humans to make the right decisions, whether for passenger processes or aircraft operations.
Opportunities for Digitalization in 2022
The airline industry is hoping to gain traveler confidence back and make people travel freely but cautiously in 2022. This will require brands to break traditional silos. Comprehensive connected product offerings from the Travel & Airline industry as a whole are one way to do that. Travel tech companies will have a significant role in enhancing the entire digital ecosystem to cater to greater integration. In addition, the shift from e-commerce to m-commerce is growing increasingly apparent. Technology providers can capitalize on this by extending the software-and-infrastructure-as-service models to control costs and helping the travel & airlines industry upscale their adaptability. The pandemic will undoubtedly offer up opportunities to leave digital footprints in several previously-untouched travel and hospitality areas. In fact, it has already started doing so.
VP & Head – Travel & Hospitality, Cybage
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