Covid-19 will accelerate adoption, says Amadeus president of Strategic Growth Businesses Stefan Ropers

Covid-19 has had a dramatic impact on the travel industry as international travel was brought to an abrupt halt and people moved indoors during lockdown.

However, these challenging times have also shown the power of collaboration and innovation.

Companies have reorganised to keep going, people have embraced new ways of working and many businesses have found innovative ways to offer their services.

As we start to see initial signs of recovery in travel, it has become clear the industry needs to adapt to changing customer behaviours and expectations while at the same time tackling many long-held frustrations.

Understanding the concerns of travellers as the world begins to open up will be more important than ever.

Transparency and communication will be key if travel companies are to reassure both customers and employees that the measures being put in place will enable safer and more secure travel. This is where technology will play a key role.

Some immediate changes will be seen in the short term. We should expect airlines, airports, hotels, and other industry players to incorporate new hygiene protocols and touchless technologies because of Covid-19.

Longer-term, the industry needs to look at how to address the stress experienced when travelling.

Whether it is choosing where to go or managing delays and disruption at the airport, there are multiple pain points associated with travel.

At Amadeus, we are focused on making a journey smoother and safer by understanding and identifying moments of stress in the travel experience.

Our traveller-centric philosophy has not changed, but the need to identify and address traveller concerns has been accelerated. Now is the time to challenge how we as an industry do things.

By working with customers, partners and developers we can focus on removing stress, making sure the experience is pleasant from the moment a traveller starts the booking process all the way through to the moment they arrive home.

But to make this a reality, the players along the travel chain need to work together, break down silos and create a better end-to-end experience.

A more digitised experience will reduce stress and at the same time encourage consumer confidence in travel again.

Governments and institutions will need to prioritise investment in strategic technological sectors to ensure the industry not only bounces back but becomes more resilient.

For these changes to take place, technologies entering the mainstream in the near future will play an important role.

One key area for development is artificial intelligence which has already been tested to predict customer behaviour and has potential to help us anticipate changes in demand.

A second is biometrics. If we want to reduce the stress in travel, biometric technology is crucial. It can help simplify passenger identification while speeding up processes and reducing waiting times.

As for the Internet of Things, it can be used at almost every point of the traveller’s journey to make operations smoother through automation.

The industry was already implementing these technologies before Covid-19 hit. It is clear to us that we need to accelerate their adoption, making them part of the next normal, to ensure the future success of the industry.