June 14, 2011
By P Krishna Kumar | New Delhi
Thomas Cook India recently unveiled its maiden whitepaper, ‘Corporate Travel: Convergence of Travel & Technology 2012’, in Delhi. Launched in partnership with The Taj Group, Amadeus, British Airways, Mastercard and ExpenseAnywhere, the whitepaper looks at how travel technology in corporate travel is transforming the travel industry today. Speaking at the launch, Sam Pitroda, Advisor to the Prime Minister of India on Public Information, Infrastructure and Innovation, said that technology is further ahead than our ability to use it. He added that technology has changed the way people travel today and a lot of changes are bound to happen as wireless technology unfolds. He said there were a lot of “pieces” to the travel eco-system, and there was a need to consolidate these pieces to provide a wholesome experience to users. “We have definitely come a long way in travel technology, yet, a lot remains to be accomplished,” he stated.
Later, while giving a presentation on the various findings of the whitepaper, Suraj Nair, Senior Vice President (Strategy & Planning) — Corporate Travel, Thomas Cook India, said the paper was prepared within four months following a “unique methodology” and with inputs from industry and social media experts. 1,537 travellers and 11 international airlines were surveyed and inputs collected from various hotels and GDSs. Nair said that there have been drastic changes in the way travellers used technology for travel information with the advent of wireless technology. “Travellers are increasingly using information technology because of time and space constraints. Information is pulled by travellers rather than pushed towards them,” he said. He added that social media would play a major role in influencing customer decisions on selection of channels, products and brands in the future.
“Today’s traveller has unrestricted access to inventories and products. He is actually driving industry practices,” said Rakshit Desai, Executive Director, Thomas Cook. He said shrinkage of devices sizes from 21″ to 4″ is a major challenge when it comes to presentation of content in an individualised manner. He added that future distribution would be electronic-driven.
The travel purchase cycle is undergoing a rapid transformation with innovation in supplier distribution, fast-changing aspirations and expectations and the emerging influence of social media, the study says. The key findings of the research are:
- Consumer demand for information is fast outpacing the information available online. About 59 per cent of the surveyed respondents visit three or more sites to make a travel purchase, and 51 per cent said that they were not able to get the required information online to make an informed decision.
- Customer identities have shrunk to their mobile numbers. Over 52 per cent of the respondents surveyed confirmed that they use mobile phones for searching travel-related products.
- Social media is gaining acceptance in terms of inspiration, information search, and the purchase and reflection stages of the travel purchase cycle. One third of the respondents confirmed their presence on social media.
- The power of computing is shifting from the desktop to handheld devices. This is in sharp contrast to the decade-long drive of corporations dictating devices and incentivising employees to stay connected for business.
- Tele-presence adoption will see rapid growth considering modern day constraints on infrastructure and bottlenecks created by distances and travel times. Fast-changing technology will offer huge savings to corporates and result in productivity enhancement for the workforce