COVID-19 has led to a significant contraction in business travel, and health and safety concerns as well as the effectiveness of video conferencing and remote working will likely ensure this lull continues. On the other hand, leisure travelers may come back in such numbers that some airlines might simply struggle to cope with.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) forecasts global air passenger traffic recovery to 88 percent of pre-pandemic levels, with traffic set to surpass this during 2023. In another IATA survey published in March of this year, 72 percent of those asked wanted to travel to see family and friends as soon as possible.
In view of everything that’s unfolding, the important question is – what should travel enterprises do to ensure they survive this crisis while simultaneously leveraging the opportunities to grow?
AI-Led Advanced Integration Could Hold the Key
The application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) can decisively impact the areas of customer experience, compliance and more through improved integration and coordination.
Customer loyalty, today, is more relevant than it has ever been in the past. AI can allow hospitality companies to offer guests a highly personalized service beyond their seating and meal preference. How? It will enable the integration of all aspects of the passenger journey – from the website they first visit, right up to the point they book airline tickets. This will arm enterprises with relevant customer insights, such as hotel preferences and transfers as well as food and beverage choices, based on past data. To drive this integrated, customized service, providers will have to leverage Big Data to offer travel options based on an analysis of tens of thousands of customers and their travel bookings.
To ensure that a passenger journey is cohesive and all individual stages are joined-up, companies need extensive and faster digital transformation with more connected tech, including plug-and-play apps that can integrate into a multi-operator ecosystem. Travel companies will be required to share information more quickly and freely, which puts the onus on them to work collaboratively to overcome challenges around data privacy.
Navigating the Problem of Increased Documentation
The pandemic and its multi-wave impact have resulted in a significant increase in checks and documentation. This challenge has been further compounded by different regions and states adopting different protocols, and revisiting them on a regular basis. Clearly, the travel industry can no longer assume that passengers will take responsibility for this administration. Next-level integration through AI can ensure that travelers automatically have all the permits and medical checks that they require for their trips.
Airlines and other travel providers will need to ensure that they use technology to present passengers with the appropriate information and check that they have complied with the requirements. AI and bots will be needed to provide advice and offer checklists. Given that this is not a core business process for most airlines, they should look for external technical expertise so that they can focus on what they do well.