Spotlight: Mark Meehan

Travelport’s managing director Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa tells why tech investments in managed travel are critical now

Travelport recently published it Global Digital Travellers Research. What are some of the interesting findings?
We surveyed 23,000 leisure and business travellers from 20 countries, and found that more millennial business travellers in Asia-Pacific use a mobile device when researching (68%) and booking (67%) a trip than in any other region worldwide. Use is second highest in North America (64% and 55%, respectively) and lowest in Europe (54% and 45%, respectively). One-third (36%) of millennial business travellers here even claim they use mobile devices to both book and pay for ‘every trip’.

The study also revealed, however, that millennial business travellers here have a growing list of pain points with current digital offerings. Around half are frustrated by companies not giving them access to their booking information on all of their mobile devices (53%), not using data to remember their preferences (45%) and not giving them the option of booking everything in one place (48%).

These findings indicate that corporate travel in this region is on the verge of leaving the digital age and entering a ‘post-digital era’ as defined by Accenture. In this post-digital world, digital is simply the price of admission for doing business – it is no longer a differentiation advantage.

Why do you think Asia-Pacific is ahead of North America and Europe in digital usage?
According to McKinsey, China and India account for one-third of the world’s Internet users. The region’s enormous pool of digital consumers supports a flourishing and innovative technology sector.

The superb digital experiences that Asia-Pacific consumers receive elsewhere – particularly from online and offline retailers – mean they expect to receive the same level of digital convenience and an enjoyable experience from travel providers.

It is the strong demand for change that sets Asia-Pacific travellers apart from their peers. Demand in this region is now among the highest worldwide for three types of digital offerings: memorable and engaging digital experiences, technology that makes travel easier to manage, as well as technology that improves personalisation.

For the foreseeable future, we believe the success of companies in the travel industry, as well as the technology companies supporting them, will largely be defined by their ability to effectively act like sophisticated modern retailers.

What can companies do to make business travel more seamless for millennial corporate travellers?
BCD Travel, one of the world’s biggest TMCs, has set a benchmark on providing a seamless travel experience. They defined their digital strategy as providing anytime access to trip information and tools from any connected device – from phones, tablets, PCs to Macs – through their engagement platform TripSource.

During travel disruptions, travellers can be reached by TripSource in close to real time with location-based risk alerts and emergency response check-ins. They can also instantly connect with their travel programme through a connection to DecisionSource, BCD Travel’s proprietary data intelligence and insight platform.

How is Travelport helping to manage the pain points of current digital offerings?
Travelport has been helping agencies apply various emerging technologies to optimise different touchpoints throughout a traveller’s journey. A buzzword in the airline industry today, NDC (New Distribution Capability) is also a technology that can provide flexibility to shoppers.

Travelport is a strong advocate for new ways of unbundling services, selling fares and ancillaries through menu style pricing and tailoring, through Travelport’s Rich Content and Branding solution. This provides new opportunities for agencies to build more direct relationships with their customers.

What does the post-digital era look like to you, and how is Travelport planning to capture this market?
Travellers are increasingly prioritising value over cost, demanding more autonomy over personalisation and using digital solutions to research and manage their trips. These are among the key findings of our Global Digital Traveller Research, which also depict our view of the post-digital world.

In this new era, we are helping travel sellers use digital channels to deliver value in more modern and sophisticated ways. For instance, by analysing consumer data signals from the GDS platform, we are in a unique position to inform and improve the traveller buying journey. From shaping how and when to market and detailing the most relevant content, we can advise on what to do next to increase agencies’ conversions, loyalty and retention and maximise the value of every trip.

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