There’s little doubt digitization has increased over the course of the pandemic, especially in areas such as payments, but is it now the expectation from consumers?
This was one of the areas touched on during a recent Skyscanner event with Nick Hall of Digital Tourism Think Tank, who stressed the need for digital solutions to customer pain points.
Hall says the company has been inundated with requests from companies needing help getting their heads round digital developments since January this year, from an all-encompassing “industry, policy and strategy” perspective.
“There’s clearly a recognition that things have changed and digital has suddenly been catapulted in its importance for businesses and consumers. It’s about optimizing that granularity of pain points and barriers and trying to alleviate those. That’s the educational journey that’s sometimes difficult to work through.”
Hall goes on to say that while people might get excited about blockchain, there’s a need to focus on customers’ problems and where digital can play a role.
He also believes consumers will increasingly expect a "digital services layer" in destinations and companies will get left behind if they’re not transforming quick enough and lose competitiveness.
“Many in the industry are moving rapidly forward and consumers are increasingly comfortable with this," he argues.
Other panelists at the Skyscanner Horizons event were asked about remaining competitive in the face of developments from Google.
Hugh Aitken, vice president of flights for Skyscanner, describes Google as just another channel, adding that the industry has to continually evolve whether through building direct relationships or personalization.
Stuart Middleton, Skyscanner's chief commercial officer, adds that the company is a good competitor to Google but that the search giant is a “formidable competitor and keeps us honest.”
Speakers were also asked what they would pick as a priority out of consistency, collaboration and clarity.
Most opted for collaboration, saying that you couldn’t have the other two without it, however Aitken argues for clarity.
“I think we have got collaboration. I've never seen the industry so joined up. I saw four airline CEOs standing on the runway at Heathrow last week, which is an odd thing anyway, that’s never happened before," he says.
"We’re collaborating to appeal to government so my word would be clarity, we can only do from what we know and if we don’t have clarity on stuff it’s impossible to plan and think ahead.”
* Watch the full event here.