How anyone can be disruptive

The world is experiencing rapid change.

A mere ten years ago, there was no such thing as Facebook or WhatsApp. No iPhones or Android devices. No cloud applications, smart watches, YouTube videos, or on-demand services.

This of course means that people have changed, too. Working patterns are different, leisure time is spent doing different activities in different places, and behavioural patterns across demographics are massively different.

To be at the forefront of these changes from a travel industry perspective, we need to know what they are, how they affect travellers, and above all, what’s going to happen next.

It is no secret that the democratisation of personal transport and holiday accommodation has shaken the foundations of travel. We still can’t go five minutes without hearing about Airbnb or Uber. Although these were both truly disruptive companies around seven years ago, what they accomplished was by no means black magic - or even particularly technologically innovative. At their cores, both Uber and Airbnb are essentially digital marketplaces connecting buyers and sellers, in the same way eBay, Amazon Marketplace, and BetFair are. These companies’ successes came not from the technology itself, but from recognising travellers’ issues and solving them.

In theory, yes - anyone can be disruptive if they know what people want. We simply need to be bold and innovative, rather than being “fast followers.” We need to adopt the latest technology innovations quickly and wholeheartedly.

When it comes to booking travel options Generation Z want ease and flexibility to make their own choices about how they engage with us. Embracing and adopting future technology - no matter how alien it might appear at first - allows us to get the jump on platforms these travellers might frequent in the next few years.

But what about today's travellers? How best can we meet their needs? Data. It is big, and it is very, very clever.

The ability to capture, cross-reference and leverage data to meet customer needs isn’t a new phenomenon - the likes of Amazon, Tesco and Google have been doing it for years. But which data is the most worthwhile to properly inform our customer service strategies?

Data, it's big and it's clever

Data sources can range from traditional surveys to demographic data, to more untapped sources including social media feedback, previous customer transactions, opinions and attitudes, and implicit mobile device data.

With all these different datasets, it’s surprising to discover that a lot of us already have a wealth of facts and figures in our banks - we’re just not using it effectively.

Ultimately, travel companies need to adapt, interpret and employ the right people to differentiate between useful, actionable data they can then turn into effective insights.

That’s not all, though. There are quite a few things we can - and, should - already be doing with the data we have. This is where it PERSONALIZATION comes in. It is essentially the practice of using anything and everything - no matter how small or seemingly trivial - you know about a traveller to influence their purchasing and travelling experiences.

After all, travel is largely a romantically-charged, heart-over-head affair. Appealing to people’s personal emotions at every stage of the journey, and the resulting feel-good factor, will pay dividends in the long run.

Personalisation can improve so many metrics right across the board, from email click-through rates and conversions to average order values. It’s also not that different from what any good marketing company should be doing already.

All we need to do is figure out who we’re targeting, what their individual journeys consist of, and how we can make them more relevant, more comfortable, and more familiar.

The fact is, the future isn’t even really the future when it comes to travel - it’s actually already here. In the same way as majority of airplanes on runways today will inevitably provide the air travel of tomorrow, many of these seemingly futuristic insights are already upon us. The need for personalisation, data analytics, cross-platform engagement, and the acknowledgement of Gen Zs are all aspects of travel we should be pursuing right now.

This is the path to disruption. Whatever the future holds for travel, we must meet it head on. Keep an eye on these trends, shake off the “fast follower” mantle, and boldly go into the unknown – this is how we’ll find ourselves becoming almost effortlessly disruptive. Over and over and over again.