Leverage digital avenues for harmony across travel ecosystems
The travel industry is recovering from the shock caused by COVID as countries remove travel restrictions and travelers yearn for the sense of relaxation, rejuvenation, and freedom that travel provides.
The industry has faced a tumultuous time with organizations and workforce impacted alike. Some businesses have acted swiftly, forging partnerships that seemed unlikely in the past, finding innovative ways to improve customer trust, tapping into new avenues underpinned by digital transformations. For example, Singapore Airlines set up a taskforce to look at the customer journey and identified 100 different touchpoints where there is scope to enhance the health and safety of customers and employees to bring back customer confidence in flying1.
While such initiatives help businesses stay afloat and pivot to emerging needs, shaping a resilient and sustainable travel value chain that transcends current industry barriers will become a collective priority for all key stakeholders.
Digital avenues can help orchestrate harmony within and across travel ecosystems, enabling new business and operating models to power resilience and sustainability.
The travel industry's current challenges
Many travel suppliers are focusing on immediate priorities such as health, safety, and resilient operations. However, they are faced with numerous challenges in this endeavor such as:
As a result, travelers face friction at multiple touch points during their journey, unable to enjoy a seamless experience; travel suppliers face detrimental impact on operational efficiency and cost; and the stress levels of front-line employees are elevated. The pandemic has introduced a new set of challenges and imperatives, lending urgency to build a travel industry that is more resilient and sustainable. But the question is: How can the travel value chain pivot to new operating models for resilience and adaptability through harmonious ecosystems and what key digital avenues can enable it?
A network of ecosystems will underpin travel's future value chain
In this connected world, the travel value chain remains largely disconnected especially in providing travelers a seamless experience. Even within an enterprise, individual portfolios operate as disjointed siloes with many weak links in information exchange, unified views, and digital collaboration.
Rapidly evolving traveler behaviors and the need to embrace nimble operations will force major travel businesses to rethink how they operate, collaborate, and provide services or products. For instance, an airport, a last-mile logistics startup, and airlines can come together to offer seamless, door-to-door pickup and delivery of bags and high-value cargo. New business entities will become a part of the value chain.
The future travel value chain will be underpinned by a network of ecosystems comprising travel suppliers, facilitators, intermediaries, original equipment manufacturers (OEMS), healthcare, wellness, and other experience providers. The list will keep growing as new partnerships are forged.
Digital solutions will fast-track the emergence of such ecosystems. As the travel industry thrives on human centricity through, for instance, front-line employees handling customer experiences and operational tasks, helping connect minds and cultures, digital intervention and enablement should be crafted with empathy, powered by a human-centered and inclusive design at every touchpoint and interaction. For instance, a digital companion for the cabin crew would benefit from considering the crew’s working conditions. Lighting conditions may need the app design experience to account for readability in dim-lit conditions and yet ensure it is not too hard on eyes. A healthy and happy crew will ensure elevated experience for travelers onboard. Such human-centric designs to power the digital interactions between the mobile app used by the traveler and the digital companion used by the crew can also ensure personalized experience delivery with minimal physical interactions. These design interventions enhance customer experience and help cabin crew optimize movements between the galley and travelers’ seat.
Harmonizing every aspect—from planning, shopping, purchasing to operations and fulfilment—through ‘empathetic orchestration’ will become the bedrock of future travel. Harmonious ecosystems will lend themselves effectively towards evolving new business and operating models that, in turn, can power resilience and sustainability. For instance, airports can liberate their kitchen/food and beverage capacity to serve customers in the neighborhood and enable customers at the airport have food from restaurants outside delivered at their boarding area. Ecosystems play between OEMs, maintain, repair and overhaul (MROs) and airlines underpinned by harmonious operations can lead to efficient, predictive maintenance and improved aircraft utilization.
Now is the time for the industry to act
Travel has been second nature for human beings to explore the new. With so much pent-up demand and new expectations in the wake of the pandemic, the timing is right for the industry to lay the foundations for a resilient and sustainable travel value chain in which every stakeholder and ecosystem operates in harmony.
Welcome to the era of purpose-led convergence.