A new report produced jointly by Amadeus and Microsoft explores how a greater focus on the purpose and context of each trip will allow the travel industry to maximize value, for businesses and travelers alike.
Together the two technology leaders are working to deliver a new set of tools, solutions and data applications to offer a next-generation experience for travelers, travel sellers and providers.
Explored within the report, “Delivering Traveler Value,” is the growing role of artificial intelligence - including the potential of chatbots like ChatGPT - when it comes to making time-sensitive offers, the impact of new technologies such as the metaverse and an evaluation of how enhanced data analytics can better serve travelers.
“As we sit on the cusp of a period of great opportunity, we continue in our collective efforts to forge a new, more human-centric, personal and better-connected travel sector,” says Corine de Bilbao, president of Microsoft France. “Exploring a new generation of technologies … we reveal how travelers will be able to navigate an increasingly complex travel landscape and truly make the most out of each and every journey.”
The report draws on work from Northstar Research Partners, which was commissioned to survey 2,400 business and leisure travelers in six key markets around the world – Brazil, Germany, India, Indonesia, United Kingdom and the United States. Contributions from partners – including Meliá Hotels International, Expedia Group, TomTom and American Express Global Business Travel – show how new tools can create more personalized and relevant experiences for travelers.
Travelers already enjoy a deeper understanding of their preferences and needs in other areas, especially entertainment (think of the recommendations that show up in Spotify based on time of day and previous musical choices). They will expect travel to do the same, the report says.
Consider how travelers research trips through online searches of key words that lead them to possibly dozens of websites. The example of ChatGPT has shown that artificial intelligence can open the way to a conversational search that could be faster and more effective. The data and technology to create this type of search already exist, the report says, but the data is too diffuse, held in silos that are inaccessible to all but a few.
The industry will not be able to move forward without more effective use of data that can more easily be shared, with common standards to facilitate this in a confidential, secure way, the report says. Concerns around the sharing of data are real – and travelers must be provided with the right security assurances and transparency before they’ll provide the necessary data, the report says.
The potential payoff could be worth it because more interconnections of data – between airlines, hotels and ground transportation, for example – means more opportunities for travel providers and more convenience for travelers. Data insight can be used to deliver recommendations on the locations, rides, meals and connections travelers need – often before they even know they need them.
“Many people experience traveling in a very frustrating way,” says Lutz Vorneweg, senior vice president of strategic partnerships at Amadeus. “They experience travel as a series of moments in which they are waiting for something. Waiting for the taxi, then to get through security, then onto the plane, then to collect their luggage, then another taxi. It takes so much away from the overall experience. We are working with Microsoft to change that.”
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An example of putting technology to use comes in the companies’ introduction of Cytric Easy, which allows business travelers to search, book, pay and report expenses within the Microsoft 365 tools they already use. It allows employees to collaborate more easily by sharing travel itineraries. Colleagues can book an identical trip with a single click.
“With thousands of employees in more than 30 offices around the world, many of whom are frequent travelers, this is a great solution for us to boost efficiency, increase collaboration and make booking business travel easier than ever before,” says Jorien Dielwart, global travel manager at TomTom.
The report makes a case that the demand for change and a greater focus on the whole trip experience is growing. And as travel becomes less predictable – adapting to global climate or health crises, among other disruptions – travel providers will become more important, if they have the data they need to respond to travelers’ needs or wants in a timely manner.
“The travel industry is at risk of being disrupted by external forces,” says Shane O’Flaherty, global director of travel, transportation and hospitality for Microsoft. “While there has been innovation in our sector, the pace has potentially been quicker elsewhere. We now have. Chance to learn from the best practice we have seen to build more contextualized trips for travelers in the new era of travel.”
Amadeus announced its partnership with Microsoft in February 2021.