Reimagining the future of travel and hospitality

As travel makes a comeback, Prantik Mazumdar, managing director, CXM Group of dentsu Singapore shares six ways to help brands reimagine a stronger future for travel and hospitality

As we started 2022, travel and hospitality brands were all excited and set to make a roaring comeback given that most countries were gradually opening their borders. With the pent-up demand from two years of lockdowns, travellers were expected to spend massively on “revenge travel”.

Alas, that was wishful thinking and #revengetravel did not trend for as long as one would have expected, or not at least at the volumes one would have liked given the economic uncertainties brought about by rising inflation, supply-chain breakdowns, political and economic turmoil in China as well as the ongoing corrections in the public markets.

Among all these issues, rising commodity costs and the lack of the “Chinese travel dollars” is what would be hurting travel and hospitality brands the most, apart from managing people on the payroll in these uncertain times.

This volatile period should definitely be used by these companies and brands to go back to the drawing board to re-strategise about how and what leisure and business travel should look like in the coming decade and how they can enrich the customer’s experience to make travel exciting, pain-free and memorable once again.

Here are six suggestions and considerations to help brands reimagine a stronger future for travel and hospitality:

  1. There needs to be a radical re-think to add elements of entertainment and leisure within the aircraft and hotel properties to make the journey and the stay more memorable; can inflight, lounge and in-room experiences be enriched through curated entertainment events, orchestrated networking and personalised content, and can these be marketed as premium services?
  2. Airlines can partner with travel insurance and vaccination accreditation start-ups to embed some of those options into their existing online booking systems so that it becomes seamless and customers do not have to spend additional time sourcing for pre-travel vaccination and insurance options.
  3. The most distressing and uncomfortable components of the travel experience is typically the boarding, check-in and check-out processes; this is a fabulous opportunity for the travel industry to re-think this workflow to either shorten/eradicate the waiting process through tech-automation or to make the wait memorable through personalised content, entertainment or utility services.
  4. Some of the above product- and experience-related transformations should thereafter be reflected in personalised, omni-channel marketing campaigns to ensure that customers are aware of these new enriched experiences that can help drive higher travel demand and perhaps lead to higher average revenue per use (ARPU) once they are ready to travel again.
  5. Travel and hospitality brands need to embrace and integrate sustainability at the core of their product and either innovate indigenous tools or partner with companies to give customers options to make sensible and sustainable choices during their travels and offset their carbon footprints. This is not only the right thing to do but will allow them to enhance their brand value and attract more customers.
  6. Lastly, travel brands need to enhance and democratise their loyalty programs – they need to integrate with a broader merchant and partner ecosystem for customers to have numerous options to encash value and perhaps even allow members to trade/transfer their points over a transparent blockchain system.

The coming one to two years can be a tough and a transformative period for travel brands depending on how they view the current predicament; just the way Airbnb recently rejigged their focus on experiences, this is the time for airlines and hotels to reimagine the future of travel in a more sustainable, engaging and memorable manner.

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