We can all see that travel is back, with rapidly recovering booking figures and positive financial outlooks being reported across the globe.
Recent findings such as the American Express 2023 Global Travel Trends report talk to a similar narrative, with the research noting 85% of respondents plan to take 2 or more leisure trips in 2023, coupled with 78% of respondents agreeing that leisure travel is an important budget priority.
At Collinson, we’re spurred on by significant increases in the number of people visiting the lounges in our global network, with numbers now beginning to surpass 2019. Supporting these figures, we’re seeing a significant surge in the Asia Pacific region (APAC); particularly now that travel restrictions in China have been lifted. It’s not only in our lounges that we’re witnessing the positivity of travel recovery either, as we have seen YOY growth of c.200% across our travel and travel-related insurance products.
Though many consumers are still willing to travel, wider economic factors are dictating a need for providers to offer value. As the debate around Artificial Intelligence (AI) rages in lieu of providing improved and tailored experiences, the industry is equally recognising the need to utilise technological innovation to help keep travel products and services affordable.
Technology can be translated in several ways for travellers, but broadly, we’re often talking about positive initiatives to improve the overarching customer experience. For example, AI such as chatbots are often flagged as a way to drive efficiency and automate customer service, but how ready are businesses for a complete digital customer service take-over?
Bottomline, companies must evolve with modern technology and its practicalities; integrating a variety of solutions that cater for the needs of many, rather than a one size fits all approach. This is the approach that Collinson is taking; collaborating with a variety of travel brands and technology leaders, such as Freshworks, with a view to improving end user experience. From an operations perspective, we’re also investigating how automation tools such as Robotic Process Automation can drive greater efficiencies across multiple areas including fulfilment and renewals. As more travellers begin to experience the benefits of technology such as AI and Robotics, it will advance their entire travel journey, and companies must keep up with this transition to remain competitive. For more on AI and how we believe it will impact the travel industry, I’d recommend reading Collinson’s Chief Product & Innovation Officer, Mo Shakarchi’s latest blog.
From a broader societal perspective, consumers changed during the pandemic; the sudden influx of hybrid-working has opened employees’ eyes to the importance of work-life balance – with flexible hybrid working the new normal for many. At Collinson, we’ve launched a global policy allowing all our employees to work 8 weeks per year from a remote location, with many taking advantage of this policy to work abroad while visiting friends, family or extending time either side of holidays.
Similarly, research reveals a desire for change in terms of the vacations and holidays we take. Record numbers of travellers are seeking off-grid experiences, often valuing trips that are more in-tune and sensitive to local cultures and communities. This doesn’t mean city breaks and beach holidays are a thing of the past, rather it means that travel providers need to better join the dots between societal and industry trends to help deliver more personalised and relevant moments of delight.
At Collinson, these moments of delight are something we feel is our sweet spot. We continually look to improve and diversify our global lounge networks for our 40million Priority Pass and LoungeKey members, helping to ensure the millions of travel journeys we influence are as inspiring, empowering and memorable as possible. Recently we added Game Space – the first gaming lounge in the Middle East at Dubai International – and a new sleep ‘n fly lounge at Doha Hamad International Airport and last month, we significantly expanded our Airport Takeout Service to an additional 14million members.
When we seek to delight, we also try to tap into how our travellers are feeling. Wellness has been on our radar for some time which is where our partnerships with BeRelax for spa experiences and WithU for audio enabled workouts, come in.
Travel has demonstrated its resilience time and time again, with the industry regularly proving its ability to adapt and innovate in the face of adversity. 2023 is proving no different and it’s our passion and commitment to continue to develop and deliver propositions with our clients and consumers front of mind, helping us to deliver the moments of positive experience and delight that travellers demand, and undoubtedly deserve.