There are thousands of ways in which technology is forcing air travel to become more evolved and futuristic.
NB This is a viewpoint by Rajeev Kumar, CEO and managing director for Mystifly.
We reached the milestone of having more devices than humans back in 2015 and aviation is deep into the era of digital transformation. We can see its effects everywhere - from digitised airports, to creative seating by airlines, to the development of apps that support the entire customer journey. Air travel and the world at large is moving at a pace that can be hard to keep up with.
What does this mean? Put simply, the accessibility to consumers of such enormous power can, literally, make or break an industry.
Businesses in every sector are waking up to this shift and ignoring it is no longer an option. Those who are still grappling with legacy and archaic back-end systems are in a more precarious position than most.
In the case of travel resellers, the question is not only about keeping up with this hi-fi techno-jumble but also staying relevant within the specific airline ecosystem of carriers, GDSs, fare rules and more.
Each component of the ecosystem is getting progressively more transparent and customer-centric, each with its own set of benchmarks and best practice. For example while airlines are attempting to streamline their distribution options to best serve the customer, GDSs are evolving their technologies to best serve the airlines.
Simultaneously, innovative business models are emerging across the value chain and having a disruptive influence on the airline sector.
In this matrix, what can the travel reseller do to free their businesses from a legacy mindset and transition to a sustainable and futuristic approach that can achieve global scale?
How technologically advanced do resellers need to become to survive in the era of digitization?
Is a digital facelift really enough?
You build a flashy, mobile-enabled website, maybe even an app. You are active on all social media channels. You share great content, images and videos showing your customers all the fantastic places you can help them travel to, promoting deals which are the best in the market.
But what happens when there is a surge in demand and you are still depending on manual processes and on frontline desk agents. Even deeper into the process you might be struggling to manage a multitude of commission contracts, unable to automate delivery of deals across multiple subscriber IDs.
This illustrates an often overlooked dynamic - digital transformation is about more than a revamped homepage. Real and meaningful digitally driven business transformation goes deeper into the core of an organisation and is the only way to fully reap the benefits of what digitization can offer.
One of the smartest ways to go about this is to identify the areas where legacy exists and to apply the right solutions to simplify, automate and optimise these functions.
At Mystifly we have identified some key areas which travel resellers need to address in order to take their business to the next level in the current climate.
Automating the supplier management system
Contracting, storing and managing multiple commission contracts with airlines, GDSs and corporates, among others, is tedious and time-consuming. This alone can be detrimental to a business' capacity to deliver at a global scale. Automation of these processes can free up around 40% of time needed using legacy systems and workflows.
As fare structures get more complex, travel agencies and tour operators need to be able to fine-tune revenues at a micro level to maximise margins. Revenue mark-ups and discounts should be mapped around different categories - at a customer level, cabin class, seat type, origin and destination and more.
Currently, it is mostly handled through manual or legacy processes that do not allow the business to build differential mark-ups between customer types. Automation of revenue management is critical for the success of airlines.
Deals and delivery automation
Automation is a pre-requisite for businesses looking to operate at a global scale and for those looking to deliver deals to customers on a real-time basis. To be able to do this, resellers and agents need to have a single platform which consolidates and aggregates GDS and LCC content
This is not a new idea. In 2012, IATA published a report that spoke on the possibility of “intelligent content aggregators” which are XML-based with rules-driven middleware.
This is a proven concept in 2016 and travel enablers can secure material advantages with solutions as simple as an API.
Act now before it's too late
Travel businesses with a robust technology framework are capable of engaging with the most technically advanced and demanding end-users - the travellers themselves.
And they can also use technology to take control of their entire business framework - from sub-agents to internal staff to their online booking tools - and ensure a seamless delivery throughout the value chain.
But without complete technology adoption and transformation at the deepest level, front-end digitisation can misfire spectacularly if the back-end cannot cope.
The era of digitally driven business transformation is already upon us, but it is not too late for travel businesses to embrace new thinking and systems. But the longer you wait, the harder it will become to catch up.
NB1 This is a viewpoint by Rajeev Kumar, CEO and managing director for Mystifly.
This article appears here as part of Tnooz's sponsored content initiative.
NB2 Image by Sergey Nivens/BigStock