Webjet Limited’s Managing Director John Guscic has released a report on the Australian Stock Exchange, which was presented at the UBS Emerging Companies Conference on Technology.
Guscic had a lot to say about the state of the travel industry, taking yet another dig at agents similar to this one a week ago.
In response, Flight Centre’s Skroo Turner responded that Webjet and Airbnb were not “a concern” to them and that the personalised agent experience still trumped OTA offerings.
In his presentation, Guscic said within our industry, there is a “highly inefficient process ripe for disruption”, and in many instances, between the traveller and the hotel company, for example, there can be as many as five participants involved in the sale.
Webjet also claims that data mismatches occur in around five per cent of all bookings.
“Currently, the perfect leisure travel experience does not exist, online or offline,” Guscic said.
Offline travel agents are limited by whatever tools, processes, and content are made available to them – as well as their own experiences, knowledge and commercial drivers. This information, content and tools vary greatly by agent.
“Online travel sites today focus mainly on the mechanics of travel and less about the overall experience.
“While efficient, comprehensive and convenient, online sites assume the traveller has inherent knowledge what is need to create the perfect itinerary.
“A solution is needed to assist the traveller in truly realising their holiday dream…from beginning to end.”
Guscic claims Webjet’s next challenge is Artificial Intelligence, which would allow them to “build on the transactional online travel experience”.
“We have the opportunity to transform the existing leisure travel shopping experience to something exceptional,” the presentation stated.
[AI] will provide both the transactional and the inspirational – guiding the traveller from idea inception, to booking, to experiences throughout the journey, until they are home and ready to travel again.
TravelManagers have also snapped back at Webjet’s previous claims that “the underlying role of the traditional travel agent is arguably in decline”.
Chairman Barry Mayo said, “It was the internet, the great enabler of modern connectivity that created the opportunity for Online Travel Agents to evolve and ironically, it was also the Internet and related technology enhancements that also created the opening for TravelManagers and the personal travel manager concept to be born.
“Travel is one sector that is very much moving forward. TravelManagers choose to embrace rather than fight the digital revolution and by using the Internet as an effective business tool the company has grown and prospered exponentially.
Service is the key in this internet age with the personal travel manager genuinely looking out for what is in their clients’ best interests.
“Providing individual tailor made experiences, and having your own personal travel manager is what sets a personal travel manager apart from many traditional travel agents and sole online providers.
“Our personal travel managers do more than just book flights and accommodation, our commitment is to ensuring clients have the best travel support and experiences.
We have examples of personal travel managers who personally drive their elderly or long standing clients to the airport, create pop-up shops at travel clubs and one instance where a client forgot their passport and their personal travel manager collected it from their house and delivered it to them at the airport, and they managed to get on their flight.
“It’s going above and beyond and delivering exceptional personal service that truly delivers to clients’ needs and ensures clients for life.”