We’ve learned that we need each other to survive – as it turns out, even more so to thrive.
The travel industry continues to suffer from the silo effect – from a B2B perspective, within teams from an operational perspective, and, we would argue, from a systems’ perspective. Going alone is such a tedious journey.
Meanwhile, travel demand has come rushing back with a bang – the jury’s still out on how prepared we’ve been for it.
Reality on the ground vs hitting it running
Our ‘new normal’ came along and snatched away our ability to do some crucial activities we’d taken for granted (doing in-person). Like huddling with knowledgeable teammates to brainstorm ideas for a tour or marketing campaign… Like dropping into tour operator offices for a chat, or doing site inspections, collecting information and exploring new partnerships face-to-face…
The reality is that we’ve surrendered these professional pleasures until things settle down (but who knows when that will be). We acknowledge that some of the inner workings of our trade have changed forever – we must find other ways to close those gaps but don’t know where to start!
The new normal obstacles:
- connection among travel brands
- connection among internal teams
- systems that don’t ‘speak’ to each other
If you’re missing talent, industry experience and knowledge from your team, how do you ensure your remaining staff get adequate product training? If your work model is part-hybrid or altogether virtual, how can collaboration take place?
Same with cross-enterprise and trade collabs: for over two years, the best we could do was conduct virtual meetings and Zoom events. No doubt this impacted your learning about supplier product or your ability to communicate new information to trade partners. Have you been able to sell each other’s products or explore joint marketing campaigns?
What if we said you could transform these obstacles into opportunities? If you want to go far, go together.
Ask more interesting questions
Change was always coming. What does that mean for you – are you doing anything differently yet?
You want more bookings or bums in seats, increase your occupancy or number of seatings. The fact is that effective business in the world going forward is moved by connection and collaboration. The travel trade is a vast tribe, scattered across the planet, suddenly faced with high demand and stretched-thin resources. This entire statement is full of opportunity.
What you have is a network of knowledge, ideas, learnings and shared objectives, and challenges that need solutions.
For end-users, the benefit is a more seamless and considered customer journey with meaningful travel experiences. As TED Talk host, Rory Sutherland, proposes in a Travelport interview: “We need to ask more interesting questions” in order to improve the customer experience. But we must do it together.
Together, we close the distances between our traditional disconnect and regain momentum by sharing ideas and resources. Together, we can raise our service standards and efficiency levels, create better experiences and sales opportunities.
Food for thought:
- Why handle all of your own market research into developing trends, collect travel search data, update your destination and product knowledge, and create new sales collateral all on your own, when you can outsource learnings and share assets instead?
- Why overwhelm your staff with labour-intensive processes, trying to communicate with each other, trade partners and clients, when you can lean on technology to shoulder the burden and aid efficiency?
- Why market your revamped hospitality offering by yourself, when you can communicate with and promote it to a bigger audience using tech to connect with the trade?
- Why waste days on a lengthy and costly, blind search for products to create new tour experiences, when you can conveniently source products with market-ready content?
- Why limit promoting your offering to your traditional market and hope for the best return, when you can leverage your marketing content and share it with trade partners for further reach?
Funny how many questions find answers in digital transformation, something that’s been knocking at our doors for some time now. Recent events have only accelerated transformation as we’re compelled to respond to the new travel demand and disrupt using old ways to work in a new space.
Engaging the new normal
So, if we agree that communication and collaboration will take us forward, what does that look like in practice, given your human resource and knowledge shortages?
We advocate the active exchange and free flow of information, marketing and sales assets, internally and externally. Do it as you network in-person at travel trade shows and do it online in Wetu.
As an accommodation, restaurant or activity supplier, you want to be visible and available – where the trade can find you, know you exist and fully appreciate what your offering entails.
As a DMC, travel agent or tour operator, you want to ensure the software you use to source products and build tours also efficiently connects with your quoting software and distribution capabilities.
As part of the best industry in the world, you want opportunities for exposure to and conversations with new partners.
Go forth and engage at your nearest trade show
- Magical Kenya Travel Expo will address the urban culinary scene and farm tourism, brands born and grown during the pandemic, revived and enhanced since. Team Wetu will exhibit at Stand M8 to provide business efficiency solutions and ideas on networking online.
- IMEX America will feature networking events and educational programmes with topics ranging from staff wellness to leadership practices.
- ITB Asia billed as the “most international” trade show, has destination marketing, tours, activities and attractions on its agenda.
- The Global European Marketplace will look at data and trends, with networking opportunities for buyers and suppliers operating in Europe.
- WTM London will host conferences and seminars, culminating in a ministerial summit on rethinking the travel industry. Team Wetu will be attending too.
- Further East will focus on reawakening luxury travel in the APAC region, with a view to expanding its community of ideas.
Connect with your best trading credentials
A virtual info exchange before, during, after, or in lieu of a trade-show visit can only speed up your efforts – and by that we mean: get your content ready to showcase your offering as you’d like it to be sold.
Help expedite forming partnerships:
- Curate content that represents your brand professionally.
- Provide trade partners with access to your accommodation, restaurant or activity content.
- Share your marketing assets in a format that other Wetu users can conveniently repurpose.
- Enable them to re-brand your assets, so it’s easier for them to sell your tours, accommodation, restaurant or activity.
Operating in isolation serves nobody. Step outside your bubble – connect internally and externally. Let’s play the travel game together, communicate better with content, and collaborate. That way, we can pay it forward, leave nobody behind, and drive progress collectively.