4th December, 2020
Nezasa, a technology provider for automated trip planning, fulfillment and personalization, acknowledges that travel has a new buzzword in the “Connected Trip”. It is being described as “the ability to sell end-to-end itineraries to travellers but in a digital, interactive, hyper-personalised way, throughout the whole travel lifecycle”.
The company, which this week raised US$ 6 million taking its total funding to $13m, believes the timing of this funding is perfect because the travel industry is due for a rebound sometime during 2021.
“The idea of “Connected Trip” has not become relevant only since the Corona pandemic has hit the travel sector - it is what the travellers want and will want after the pandemic, too. However, its relevance has increased, because the technology that is needed to enable the connected trip can also help during the current crisis,” Hilty told Ai’s Ritesh Gupta. “Technology can ensure in a split second whether a component of the trip stands in the way of a seamless realisation.”
The company asserts that its platform allows for complete customisation of an itinerary. Hilty spoke about the same:
Ai: How can the Connected Trip platform streamline the entire planning and booking journey of a traveler, especially considering the new factors that have to be considered because of the pandemic?
Manuel Hilty: The Connected Trip wants to create a seamless experience for the traveller. They should have a frictionless trip, in which they can book where and what they want, whenever they want. At the same time, it means the highest level of personalisation, too. Travellers can just mix and match products in order to create a trip that is truly uniquely suited for them.
This idea of the connected trip has not become relevant only since the Corona pandemic has hit the travel sector - it is what the travellers want and will want after the pandemic, too. However, its relevance has increased, because the technology that is needed to enable the connected trip can also help during the current crisis. It handles the vast complexity that is behind trip planning and it helps to react faster to unforeseen events and changes. So essentially, by streamlining all single services into one unified trip and making sure that all underlying complexity is handled so that the trip goes seamlessly, the traveller is freed to focus fully on having an unforgettable experience.
Trip booking engines like ours ensure exactly that. It makes the experience more wholesome for the traveller, but it makes the life of the travel provider much easier, too.
Ai: How can technology play its part in offering flexibility to consumers in case they intend to cancel or change a booking, and at the same time how can the same be simplified for airlines to manage the same?
Manuel Hilty: Technology can ensure in a split second whether a component of the trip stands in the way of a seamless realisation. In contrast, it could require hours of manual work for a travel provider or the traveller to make sure everything is still in order. For instance, by canceling a booking in our TripBuilder application, all services can be cancelled together - with just one click. The same applies to changes: Let’s say the travellers want to extend their stay in location A by one night: you just click one button and the whole itinerary gets amended with the new dates and the system ensures that the consistency is kept, meaning that all travel products are also available on the new dates.
In the end, technology takes time-consuming manual work of the user and frees them to do what they enjoy: create trips that fit their desires or those of their customers, instead of double checking whether the dates and products fit all together. This is very interesting for airlines too, especially in these times, when flight planning is so much more complex due to rapidly changing situations.
Ai: Travelers are likely to be interested in evaluating what a trip would look like – for instance, the airport experience, the protocols being followed within an aircraft or in a hotel. How do you think travel providers can play their part in the same?
Manuel Hilty: Content is absolutely one of the kings in today’s travel distribution. We have seen that in hotel distribution for a long time, but it’s also important for any type of travel experience. The more one can show the traveller upfront, the higher the chance of conversion.
Travel providers can give travellers an idea of what they can expect of a trip not only by illustrating what hotels, attractions etc. look like, but also by providing travel documentation that is tailored to the trip the customer has booked. But it doesn’t stop there. More and more information will be needed about procedures and protocols that have to be followed, restrictions to be kept in mind etc. This information is not always static. Therefore, it’s also important to stay in touch with the customer and inform them about short-term changes.
There are several technology providers already out there that can provide help in all of the above areas.
Ai: What can contribute to verticalization of business, i.e. upselling and the opportunity for additional business that was attractive to airlines before Covid-19, but may be even more crucial now?
Manuel Hilty: The attractiveness of selling ancillary services, hence making additional revenue with a customer, will become more important than ever. Since volume has been decreasing massively, airlines need to think outside the box. That’s where additional business comes in - it brings new business opportunities. One of them is to upsell by offering further elements of a trip in a seamless way. This can include single elements as well as a fully packaged trip. Nezasa’s solutions, for example, support both. This gives airlines a new angle to the market in which they already possess a high level of enterprise and trusting customers.
Ai: Can you cite a couple of examples how airlines can garner additional revenue or incremental revenue from existing demand?
Ai: What hinders airlines from unlocking upsell potential?
Manuel Hilty: Having to take on tour operating liability might let airlines hesitate in unlocking these upselling potentials. Another big hurdle is the lack of technology and the need of investment to develop it. However, the technology is already there: airlines don’t need the IT department or expertise themselves, they need a trusted partner who can provide it. Nezasa is such a partner, providing spearheading solutions to the market.