Travel Convention 2016: Travel ‘underperforming’ in tech says Etihad boss

The travel industry has been accused of under-performing in the use of digital technology.

Etihad Airways chief executive Peter Baumgartner made the claim while outlining a multi-million dollar strategy by the airline to harness the digital revolution.

The $10 billion aviation and travel group created a ’20/20 Flight Plan’ 18 months ago to put the digital guest journey at the heart of the business, he told delegates at the Abta Travel Convention in Abu Dhabi.

The UAE carrier is working with IT giants such as Sabre, IBM and Adobe on the project to create new ways to connect with passengers.

“The digital guest journey is the next wave of innovation through the wider digital revolution,” he said.

“The industry as a whole has under performed in this area. Technology is the area that offers the next opportunity for great leaps forward.”

Outlining Etihad’s “guest-first” mindset, he highlighted innovations such as in-flight butlers, chefs and nannies as “true innovations, not marketing gimmicks” which have set the airline apart from traditional legacy rivals.

“We don’t benchmark against other airlines, instead we do against hospitality brands, hotels, restaurants and spas,” Baumgartner said. “We call passengers guests and we create services that they really want.”

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