Eric Lanier, Travelport
"Where retailing had been about revenue optimization and conversion, it is now about demand generation – getting people back into airline seats and in hotel rooms at all."
Quote from Eric Lanier, vice president of agent retail channels at Travelport, in an article on PhocusWire this week on the future of retailing.
Each Friday, PhocusWire dissects and debates an industry trend or new development covered on our site that week.
You might expect travel tech providers that have pinned much of their growth on providing retailing tools to suppliers to be talking up the model right now.
Travelport's article noted above, plus the interview we did on the InPhocus podcast this week with OpenJaw Technologies, illustrate just how crucial these system vendors believe retailing to be for brands needing a helping hand post-coronavirus.
They're probably right.
Perhaps now more than ever, travelers are going to be asking more from the companies that get them where they need to go and accommodate them once they're there.
Travelers are nervous, as perhaps they should be given the knife-edge state that many countries and brands find themselves in as they consider "reopening" despite COVID-19 still being present in society and still without a vaccine.
Travel providers need to gauge how they can act in a way that is reassuring to customers but also help their own businesses get back on their feet.
Personalization and retailing are vital components of that strategy.
Retailing, at its core, allows for partnerships that - in theory - should both benefit the customer and their experience of a brand and foster new revenue opportunities.
The important part here is coronavirus has illustrated that this is a time, as brands attempt to recover, for collaboration between service providers that instils trust (and eventually, they hope, loyalty) in the process and the experience.
This can be done through retailing techniques (air ticket + clean accommodation + authorized transportation + travel insurance + safe activity) that draw on the ability for any part of the ecosystem to participate and capitalize.
It's not that long ago that International Airlines Group CEO, Willie Walsh, stated his skepticism about online retailing's role in aviation.
It would be interesting to see, as British Airways and other carriers in the group attempt to revert to a pre-coronavirus status, if Walsh is still as belligerent about the ability to reassure customers and collaborate across sectors now.
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