Comment: Disruption can be a catalyst for positive change

Sullivan & Stanley’s Jonathan Potter asks how the travel sector can build resilience in the face of challenges

The travel industry has long been a cornerstone of connectivity and global exploration – but mounting strikes and delays have cast a shadow over this integral sector. The Civil Aviation Authority reports that around 32% of flights departing from UK airports were cancelled or delayed in the first five months of the year, with fear that flight delays have become the norm in pandemic Britain. There have also been reports of two hour long waiting times at the port of Dover taking precious time out of the much needed holidays for travellers.

These challenges are no longer just inconveniences; they significantly impact customer experience and hinder business success.

People are ready to enjoy the thrills of post-pandemic travel. However, accepting disruptions as the norm puts the brakes on this. Enduring success is achieved partly through operational efficiency, but also through being intentional about putting consumer satisfaction at the heart of every decision that will get us moving again – with the added bonus of businesses taking off.

Ageing Legacy and Fragmented Systems

The end-to-end journey of travel is a symphony of different companies and roles, each playing their part. From managing trains or airlines to overseeing ground staff and catering services to terminal designs and layout  – these individual segments need to function as a cohesive unit.

But legacy systems, devoid of seamless communication capabilities, are putting a halt on proceedings. Factor in the fragmented responsibilities across multiple entities and you’re left with a bottleneck which inevitably slows down the travel process.

Adopting systems that identify where delays occur is an important step towards optimisation. This includes considering complete overhauls of terminal designs to maximise flow and ease, expediting tedious processes like check-ins and security. When we consider the growing number of passengers now travelling through airports, train stations or on roads every day, it becomes increasingly more important to take advantage of artificial intelligence solutions. This can make travel easier and more seamless which leads to higher customer satisfaction and ultimately, revenue.

Travel communication also doesn’t end with the travel providers. Ensuring accessible information also empowers passengers. Implementing real-time notifications opens an opportunity to establish a robust system that delivers instant updates and enhances the overall flow of tasks, enabling passengers to navigate their responsibilities with precision and freeing time for staff to focus on other pressing tasks.

Recognising Shifts In Priorities

Increased adoption of remote working has amplified the need to  retain talent and foster loyalty. This raises questions about what tasks can be executed remotely and how to enhance the employee experience while maintaining productivity.

The global pandemic has not only changed what travellers find important, it has also impacted travel employees’ expectations. Like most workers, they are now reevaluating the necessity of in-person visits and questioning the investment of time and resources required to get their jobs done efficiently with minimal disruption to travellers.

Without adequate processes in place to ensure that employees feel like their time and well being are considered, there’s likely to be a lack of motivation to get the job done as swiftly as possible.

Adoption of agile technologies that work hand in hand with human efforts to swiftly adapt to the ever changing travel landscape remains key to addressing this problem. We’re now seeing artificial intelligence solutions that reduce reliance on back-office tasks and free up resources for improved customer interactions.

The benefits of leveraging these innovative technologies doesn’t end there. When processes are optimised to ensure that the travel process runs smoothly, revenue can be boosted from other key areas. In the case of air travel, a more efficient airport will see customers have more time to enjoy food halls and browse duty free shops. Airline carriers will also be encouraged to deliver their services through certain airports because they guarantee customer satisfaction and increased revenue in the long run.

Understanding The Passenger

Recognising and addressing the issues that slow down travel processes is crucial and the passenger experience is at the heart of the solution.

Embracing a passenger-focused approach can be the catalyst for the travel sector turning things around. Additional focus on understanding and catering to different types of travellers can guide solutions and help to spot the limitations that the current systems have and how best to work around them efficiently.

This is where data driven insights become key. Using data analytics to identify which passengers need what, makes it easier to pinpoint problems and make targeted improvements that will surely have the biggest impact.

The challenges of delays and disruptions can be turned into catalysts for positive change. By leveraging technology, data insights, and a persona-centric approach, the travel industry can pave the way for a brighter, more resilient future that redefines the travel experience for all stakeholders.

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