Travel Tech Show: Challenges and considerations for future tech stack
Nimet Sayeed, Event Manager, TravelTech Show
Keeping pace with technological developments and available solutions is all very well, but ensuring those solutions are fit for purpose means having a solid grounding in, and understanding of, the challenges your business currently faces.
A recent survey of travel technology buyers at the upcoming TravelTech Show, which takes place 28-29 June at ExCeL in London, revealed a number of the key challenges currently facing travel operators. One in five (20%) listed developing in house solutions as the biggest challenge, closely followed by maintaining margins (18%), consumer experience (17%), finding talent (16%) and AI (also 16%). All challenges that travel operators and travel technology developers alike will recognise and likewise are keenly focused on finding solutions for.
These findings reveal that whilst there are a number of different considerations topping the to do list, there is also a certain degree of cross-over, so it’s reasonable to suggest this is where the real potential and value of the future tech stack lies. Perhaps not quite a ‘one size fits all’ approach but certainly a tech solution for one challenge has the potential to meet others. For example, AI ChatGPT being developed as an in-house solution, to help enhance the customer experience by responding to enquiries and reviews, as well as managing itineraries and in turn filling the talent gap, can work to maintain profitable margins.
For any future technology strategy to be effective, a solid understanding of the current challenges an operator faces must go hand in hand with solid research of the solutions available and the vendors that offer them. It can be hard to keep up with the advances in travel technology but it is essential that operators and buyers also keep their own criteria and objectives in mind when deciding the shape and structure of their future tech stack. Jack Ramsey, CEO of TripStax offers sage advice, “The key thing to consider is: what constitutes a tech stack? A lot businesses in our industry have made the mistake of believing a tech stack is just a list of names of different tech providers that are put into marketing material to say ‘look at all these things in our tech stack’. Unless all of those technologies are integrated to a centralised model, (or a decentralised model in the near future), where all of the booking, profile and financial data has parity of content, across all of systems being used, then you can’t call it a tech stack. A tech stack needs to be based on one set of data credentials. The tech stack should be able to retrieve all of that data/information so that there is parity across all the tech applications; only then will you have a cohesive tech stack – and that’s what makes a tech stack so powerful.”
Time spent on research should be viewed as an investment, not a cost and one of the defining criteria for any solution must be efficiencies. How efficient is the solution going to make your day-to-day operations and overall business? Focus on the technology that you are employing now and in the short term and really take the time to understand and evaluate if it is the right fit. Longer term it is also important to ask technology suppliers what their ambitions and plans are for future developments so you can also consider if there is a strategic alignment with your own development and growth plans and if they will enable you to meet the challenges you expect in the future. Where possible benchmark how you operate against competitors in the market.
As part of the research process, survey heads of department to understand what the pressure points are and where frustrations lie within different departments. As Iva Vodopija, Head of Sales & Marketing at LEMAX suggests, “Before, during and after the process of employing new technology and solutions ensuring your team is engaged across the board is also an important consideration. Designate a person on your team to lead the project and/or find a tech consultant to guide you through the process.”
If time and budgets allow appointing a project lead to manage the implementation of new software and solutions can pay dividends. Even if not possible keep in mind you will need to allow time for any new technology to be integrated, data to be migrated and staff to be fully trained so that they and your customers can benefit as quickly and efficiently as possible. If team members feel they are consulted and involved in building a new technology strategy not only will it be better informed, you can also expect to see greater engagement and adoption by team members when the time comes for implementation. A win win.
Costs, integrations, future vision and plans for growth, distribution strategies, as well as customer demands, competitor activity and wider market conditions will all have a role to play in deciding future technology strategies for travel companies worldwide. Likewise, whilst many regard the topics of customer experience, in-house solutions and AI as challenges, perhaps this is also where the opportunity lies and excitingly where we can look forward to new developments that will enhance travel for both the customer and the operator in the next 20 years and beyond.
This year the TravelTech Show celebrates its 20th anniversary. To find out more about current market challenges and the solutions available to meet them and to register to attend please visit: traveltech-show.com