In this series, we spend five minutes with an industry luminary to get their thoughts on the latest trends and opportunities for the travel tech sector.
This month we speak with Christophe Bousquet, a respected industry veteran and former CTO of Amadeus.
1. What do you see as the biggest challenge for the travel sector in 2023?
This year is really the year of the travel industry’s rebound after the difficult years of Covid-19. Last year has already shown a real improvement but not necessarily everywhere in the world. Asia was still at a low level which is not the case anymore. Now, in terms of challenges, I could list a lot but I want to highlight two. First, is to come back to a smooth and efficient travel experience for the traveler. As we have seen last year, traveling was difficult. There were many reasons for this, including a shortage of resources, and health regulations, and the end result was, the travelers’ experience worsened. We need to get back to providing a really seamless traveler experience – this is key for the future of the industry.
The other priority is somehow linked to the first one. Make the overall traveler experience simpler and easier. From the moment of booking to the moment of traveling. Let’s take the example of the booking process. It’s time to make better use of artificial intelligence, to leverage conversational AI to inspire customers. Traveling is also something that, most of the time, we do with other people – friends, colleagues, or family. And the booking process is not a collaborative process. You are on your own trying to share options with your friends offline. This is also an area within the booking process that can be improved.
2. What do you think will be the biggest game changer in the travel industry in the next 5 years?
This is a difficult question. As I answered previously, I believe that simplicity for travelers is a priority.
And when you say that, you open a lot of doors. This means using AI to quickly provide the right suggestions. This means redesigning the interactions between traveler and supplier at the point of purchase, like true conversations and social bookings. It also means having more simplicity when traveling, passing security, picking up your rental car, and checking in at the hotel. One of the keys to the success of the travel industry is a simpler and smoother travel experience.
Another thing that I would highlight is the very legitimate travelers’ demand for sustainability. This applies mainly to airlines but not exclusively. It ranges from the basic issue of giving travelers full visibility of the carbon impact of their trip, to making the overall journey greener. The airlines are working on this, but it also sometimes means favoring greener options like trains or combining the two when possible.
3. What do travelers have to look forward to this year?
Firstly, more places to visit! Asia and China are now fully reopened. Beyond this, as I said before, this is the year of being back to normal. No more PCR tests, no more health restrictions, and hopefully all travel actors have had time to rebuild their manpower.
Also, what we see are some very good companies developing very good solutions to facilitate travel. ChatGPT will be leveraged, social booking will be possible, and better-personalized offers will be proposed. All this is going in the right direction.