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How using and investing in technology could help future-proof your business

Travel brands that embrace social media and other technologies during the Covid-19 lockdown are more likely to survive and bounce back, claimed experts during the Israeli Ministry of Tourism’s recent online crisis management seminar


The Israeli Ministry of Tourism’s webinar entitled Crisis Management, Technology, the Future Trends and In Between, which went live on video conference platform Zoom on 30 March, focused on how the travel industry can implement new technology or upgrade existing platforms to elevate the customer experience.


Kicking off proceedings was tourism-resilience advisor Eran Ketter, who said travel companies must invest in their digital presence during the Covid-19 crisis.


“During self-isolation, people are spending longer online. Facebook and Instagram are seeing huge increase[s] in traffic,” he said. “Tourism businesses are also experiencing growth in organic [traffic].


“Now people are stuck at home… we [the travel industry] must expect an increase in digital engagement. Covid-19 is an opportunity to step back and upgrade online services.”


Ketter suggested travel brands should make use of social media channels to convert online visitors into clients.

“I would recommend looking at short video sharing service TikTok to connect with audiences. It is now the only app with more downloads than Zoom,” he explained.


He added: “Podcasts can also be an effective marketing tool, especially if you work with influencers, while YouTube remains a great way to promote your brand.”


While older clients might not be as likely to use platforms such as TikTok, they can help appeal to younger generations. And it’s this younger demographic that’s more likely to start travelling first once the pandemic is over, according to Iata, said Ketter.


“Iata is predicting that in the fourth quarter of 2020, aviation will only be disrupted 20% compared to the same period in 2019, which is quite positive. They expect the first clients to board flights will be millennials and generation Z, before baby boomers.”

Innovate Israel founder Itai Green spoke about the importance of innovation in today's turbulent climate
Innovate Israel founder Itai Green spoke about the importance of innovation in today's turbulent climate

Embrace innovation

Joining Ketter was Itai Green, founder and chief of Innovate Israel – an organisation that connects corporations seeking tech solutions with start-ups. He said businesses must innovate now if they are to survive in the post-coronavirus world.


“There is an arrogance of success in corporations – [they believe] that what they did yesterday will still work for them,” Green warned. “You [travel brands] must invest in new technology to have a significant advantage over your competitors – now is the best time to innovate.”


The best course of action for travel businesses, whether large or small, is to work with technology start-ups and embrace the concept of “open innovation,” which Green described as “a deep understanding that the smartest people are not working for you”.


He added: “If that’s the case, then partner with them. It offers the lowest risk and highest return on investment if you do it right.


“Start-ups are currently looking for the ability to test their tech on your platforms. Therefore, you can use their systems at a low cost.”


Whether it’s Whizar, which uses machine learning to double profits on airfares for agents, or Travaxy’s booking service for clients with disabilities, there are a range of start-ups currently offering 0% commission and no setup fees.


“Integrating new technology is the best way to increase revenue, boost load times and stay up-to-date in the current climate,” concluded Green.

Three free-to-use social media platforms to help bolster your digital reach

  1. TikTok With more than 800 million active users, TikTok is an iOS and Android app for creating and sharing short videos between three and 15 seconds in length. Travel agents could create hashtag challenges or competitions where clients would be encouraged to make videos to promote a particular destination or experience that they are selling.
  2. Soundcloud A free-to-use audio platform, SoundCloud connects users with music created by people all over the world. With no downloads required, the web-based platform can also be used to host podcasts, which can then be shared on travel agencies' social media channels.
  3. YouTube An oldie but a goodie, this video-sharing platform has been entertaining and informing millions of users since 2005. Whether you upload videos on the latest travel news or use it to create videos of you and your colleagues travelling on fam trips, YouTube is a great, cost-effective way of engaging with customers online.
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