On the opening day of the 2019 Travellers Choice Conference, General Manager Sales hosted a couch chat with some of the industry's leading lights: John Veitch (The Travel Corporation), Brett Mitchell (Intrepid Group), Michael Stein (Cover-More Travel Insurance), Steve Brady (Viva Holidays), Susan Haberle (APT Travel Group), Anthony Laver (Scenic) and Peter McCormack (Royal Caribbean Cruises).
The topics discussed by the seven industry leaders were broad, ranging from customer engagement and sustainable travel to emerging technology and challenges to the cruise sector’s growth.
One particularly interesting discussion saw panel members consider how data was currently being enriched and how it could be more effectively used to add greater value to agents.
Cover-More Travel Insurance’s Michael Stein said his company saw potential to assist its retail partners by tapping into its existing data to identify travel trends and local sales opportunities. At the same time, the company was exploring ways to use data to enrich the customer journey.
“For example, if we receive news of an earthquake of terrorist attack, we can geo-locate customers and send them a message saying we know you are in the region, text us to let us know you’re safe or call us so that we can arrange an evacuation.”
If Cover-More and travel agents could “utilise their data together”, he said they could create something particularly powerful.
“You have their itinerary, and if we work together we can ensure that we deal in real time with disruptions. For example, your customer is flying into LAX and we know their flight has been delayed and so they are going to miss their connecting flight. As they got off the plane we could send them a text message to say your travel agent has already rebooked you and we've paid for it.”
The Intrepid Group’s Brett Mitchell told agents that sustainability was an issue that no travel company could now avoid.
“Younger travellers want to understand the process behind the supplier line. And the impact they are having by their travel," he said.
The Travel Corporation’s John Veitch agreed, and said one way his company was addressing the issue was by exploring “under-tourism” as an antidote to community concerns around over-tourism.
“There are plenty of places that could benefit from more tourism, we want to find those places and help our customers get there,” Veitch said.