In the age of technology, travel agents are about to become more important than ever, according to Paula Felstead, Chief Technology and Operations Officer for the HX Group (under which Hotelbeds falls), according to a report in www.travelweekly.com.aus.
Speaking at Hotelbeds’ Market Hub Asia in Bangkok, Felstead said travel consultants should realise they now have the opportunity to use technology for several purposes – two major ones being to free up their time spent on routine jobs, and to allow the technology to give them and their clients insights and advice on any destination.
Speaking of a combination of visualisation and AI, she said Apple was developing spectacles, equivalent to a VR headset, that would be a game-changer in terms of this type of combination.
Felstead iterated what she called the most potent piece of wisdom for travel agents and advisers. “AI and social media only take us to a to a point, but it actually doesn’t meet the needs of the consumer. Does everybody really want to go to the same beach or to the same place or to the same hotel? Social media enables you to make connections with your potential customers. But, actually, the value of what they get from connecting with you is really your magical point.”
That’s the point at which agents can add value – personalisation, a level of service, insights and actual knowledge. “That level of insight and experience and value that you can add is still there. But you’re going to have to think differently about how you express that and how you make that customer connection,” she said.
Felstead warned that there? was no ‘first mover advantage’ in embracing ‘Chat’ without understanding exactly how it was going to benefit your business.