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EyeForTravel Digital Strategy Summit took place in London on 21 and 22 May. Euromonitor International attended the stimulating two-day event packed full of panel discussions and presentations. With industry leaders from Google, Facebook, IBIS, and more, the theme focused on the evolution of companies, and how incorporating upcoming technologies has provided memorable experiences for their customers, from the discovery of new destinations to post-booking services.
Accor recognised the importance of offering a comprehensive and quick booking system to boost customer experience. The group is creating a unique “Augmented Hospitality” ecosystem through the launch of an innovative app at the end of 2019. The service brings together the booking system of all Accor hospitality brands, as well as airlines and restaurant partners.
The importance of superior customer experience is echoed by Hotel Group, which recognises the relevance of embedding the concept in hotel’s revenue management, with the aim to drive occupancy rates.
IBIS is taking a whole new approach towards budget hotel designs. According to Martine Groce-Momboisse, Senior VP Global Marketing Economy and Midscale Brands, people desire branded but not uniform experiences. For this reason, the brand is deploying four new architect designs across all IBIS hotels in the world, in addition to implementing a floating check-in service carried out through mobiles in the hotel hall.
While Rene Frey, CEO of Rough Guides, affirms that it is important for travellers and brands to respect and protect nature, Franck Kermarrec, CMO of Millennium Hotels and Resorts, shifts the view on local communities. He states “Travel is something that must improve the wellbeing of local communities.”
As in any other area of digital commerce, voice platform was a crucial topic at the summit. According to Shailesh Pallipuram, VP Channels at IHG, voice is a critical platform for travel distribution.
Still, some challenges exist that may limit the spread of voice travel commerce in the short-term. Sanchit Rege, E-commerce Manager at Hyatt, explains that implementing voice usage requires significant investments in search engines optimisation, as the key words used while typing are different from the words used while speaking. For Amazon Pay, the real struggle will be to provide a service that has advantages over a normal search engine.
“In the age of instant gratification, consumers want to obtain what they desire immediately.” Explains Neasa Bannon, Head of Travel Marketing EMEA at Facebook. As an increased amount of travel destinations searches are carried out on Facebook’s brand Instagram, the company has partnered with EasyJet to provide an instant booking system to satisfy this need. Artificial intelligence allows consumers to scan pictures of unknown destinations posted on Instagram and direct them to the flights booking page to that specific place.
A different approach in the use of Artificial Intelligence was taken by Google. The company is leveraging on the information saved in the Google Trips app and passes them on to travel providers. This way, advertisers can see consumers’ needs in an exact moment to target them with personalised ads in real-time. According to Rob Lawson, Global Partnerships at Google, Artificial Intelligence will allow consumers to “connect the dots” of their travel, through easier and smoother interaction with travel operators.