Some of my favorite hobbies require me to put my trust in other people – at times even putting my life in someone else’s hands, quite literally. I’ve already spoken of my love of skiing down mountains but I also enjoy climbing up them, rock climbing in summer and ice climbing in winter. Those of us who enjoy ice climbing understand and accept that trust is critical to success.
Mountains are an inherently dangerous place to be, and it’s common practice in mountaineering to ‘rope up’ with others for safety, and travel as a team when tackling challenging terrain such as crossing a glacier or ascending a frozen couloir on your way to the summit. If someone slips on a slope or falls into a crevasse, others on the team act as a human anchor to stop the fall and if necessary, rescue the fallen climber.
Trust is at the heart of effective customer relationships
The best brands understand the importance of trust and strive to consistently meet customer expectations, seeking to become synonymous with consumer trust and customer-centricity. In the retailing world, Amazon stands out because of the level of trust it has built with its customers. This trust means their customers don’t need to ‘shop around’ – unparalleled choice from multiple sellers in one place, intelligent product recommendations and competitive prices are a given. It’s this level of trust that the airline industry must aspire to if it is to successfully transition to a traveler-centric retailing model in the coming years.
Sabre is building next-gen modern airline retailing technology on the three value pillars of choice, intelligence and ease, and it’s this concept of ‘ease’ – making fulfillment as easy and convenient as possible for the consumer – that I believe goes to the heart of Amazon’s success when it comes to building trust. Ease of fulfilment is critical to the success of any offer- and order-based retailing model, and critical to building trust. Amazon excels at fulfilment and differentiates itself from every other retailer on that basis alone.
This trust is perhaps best exemplified by Amazon Key, arguably the clearest example of technology-driven innovation combined with superior trust leading to customer-centricity. Through the Amazon Key service, customers with smart home technology such as an electronic door lock or garage door opener can grant access to an Amazon delivery driver so that packages can be delivered securely when they are not home. Just think about that for a moment. Amazon has built so much trust that customers are happy to let an Amazon delivery person – essentially just a stranger in an Amazon polo shirt – open their front door, walk into their home and drop off a package.
The future of travel retailing
Sabre research indicates the airline industry has work to do to gain the trust and confidence of consumers looking to purchase non-airline products or services. Today, travelers prefer to purchase travel directly from the service provider or a trusted agency. This limits the range of products and services airlines can sell. Airlines must convince travelers they can both sell and support a broader range of air and non-air services, including content from retailing partners, in an offer- and order-based future. But the fact that travelers today lack the confidence to book non-air products from an airline presents a massive ($40bn*) opportunity for those airlines that can successfully ‘crack the nut’ of traveler trust.
More, more, more
A modern retailing business model with aligned technology and business processes are key ingredients in the recipe for superior consumer trust. Sabre’s next-gen solutions will empower airlines to consistently deliver on the promise of more choice, more relevant recommendations and more seamless fulfilment for travelers.
Seamless fulfilment at scale is core to Sabre’s vision for our retail travel marketplace. For airlines, greater system and workflow automation will improve efficiency by eliminating repetitive tasks and synchronizing orders as a master record. One of our strategic priorities is to maintain trip integrity, which means ensuring a seamless travel experience throughout the entire travel journey.
Travelers will enjoy a streamlined experience, including greater control of their own experience through more self-service options, in addition to existing full-service help desk support. When travel plans change unexpectedly, travelers will be notified automatically, minimizing any inconvenience. Reaccommodation will be synched across all aspects of the trip with self-service capabilities available should the airline and/or traveler prefer.
Just as climbing mountains requires trust in your climbing partners, I believe that for airlines to realize their full revenue growth potential in the retail-driven travel ecosystem of tomorrow, they must build the consumer trust and confidence that will enable them to identify and monetize the new opportunities made possible by offer- and order-based retailing.
You can learn more about Sabre’s approach to smarter airline retailing powered by offers and orders right here.