A huge lack of workers is currently the biggest barrier travel companies are facing globally, and the biggest long-term threat to the hospitality and tourism industry development. As soon as the pandemic started, the tourism staff either lost their jobs or were put on furlough. And as soon as they got a chance, workers found new jobs, mostly outside of the tourism industry, aiming for a less risky sector during the travel-restrictive times.
Even though traveling is getting back to normal and bookings have started growing rapidly in 2021 vs 2020, most of the tourism companies are struggling, as they have no workers to focus on delivering the best experience to their customers. On the other side, customers’ expectations and needs have also changed:
“Unlike in previous crises, where travelers’ spending power was weakened, this one has irrevocably changed consumer behavior, decision-making processes, and values. Digital technologies have entered all aspects of everyday life, from researching, collaborating, ordering, and purchasing whatever is needed. These new habits will become necessary for travel companies as well. Travelers expect an on-demand and foremost personalized service with seamless communication through various channels.” – said Iva Vodopija, head of Sales Operation in Lemax for Netokracija earlier this month.
While travelers are looking for more unique, personalized offers, free cancellations and rebookings, digital presence and faster responses from agencies, etc; travel companies seek to succeed in the post-pandemic times. But they need to adapt to the new demand quickly while lacking workers to do so.
This crucial issue can be tackled with the help of technology. The industry is already well behind others when it comes to technology adoption, let alone transformation.
“It is about mindset shift, having technology and people co-exist, using technology to automate and streamline administration and back-office processes, and focusing more on cost savings and customer experiences.”
By implementing automation and digitalization of business processes, travel companies can operate faster and be focused on the quality of their products and satisfying the needs of the new generation of travelers. Just one of the examples is a tour operator No. 8 from New Zealand who managed to grow their sold tours by 43% and their profit by 20% – in the middle of a pandemic.
“Tour operators who are ready for this new demand will be the winners, and those who did not take advantage of this moment will soon cease to exist,” concludes Iva.