Autumn 1983 finds a 17-year-old Richard landing his first travel job – working for Thomson Holidays in its Birmingham call centre.
It’s an exciting time to be a part of the team, as Thomson is in the midst of transferring its reservation processes from paper and whiteboards to its first computer system, Top.
For now, travel agents continue to phone through to the call centre to check availability and make bookings, which they do using this amazing new tech.
It won’t be long until the majority of those agents have Viewdata installed in their shops and are booking customers on Thomson holidays using the agent’s version of Top, resulting in me becoming surplus to Thomson’s requirements.
Fast-forward 36 years and our world has been transformed by technological advances. Some of the stuff we take for granted now would have been considered the ramblings of a mad scientist back in the 1980s.
Of course, the travel industry has advanced irrevocably due to tech. Those travel companies that embraced the changing landscape and opportunities new tech brought have tended to not just survive, but thrive.
Those that have been slower to react – or have been resistant – have tended to fall by the wayside.
Surely the lesson here is obvious. Which is why the results of a recent poll on the Travel Gossip Facebook group asking whether the industry wanted tour operators back on Viewdata was
so massively depressing. Of the 709 people who responded to the survey, 587 answered yes. That’s 83%.
I find the mindset inherent in this thinking utterly baffling.
If, as a travel agent, you think your future prosperity could be secured by the return of Viewdata, then I would strongly urge you to wake yourself up with a very cold shower very quickly.
One thing is for sure, the travel entrepreneurs and disruptors of the future will not be thinking about Viewdata, just as the millennials shaking up France’s funeral business are not thinking about dark oak coffins and mountains of paperwork.
Instead, they are creating a product in tune with modern society, with eco-friendly coffins and resting places, perfumes based on a deceased relative’s smell and QR codes on headstones linking via an app to the deceased’s photos and favourite music.
In an industry still functioning on faxes and payment by cheque, the new entrants have developed online systems to make the process of organising a funeral more efficient for companies and less stressful for relatives – saving time and resources are key drivers for today’s consumers.
Uninhibited young minds fully dialled into modern society’s key emotional drivers are a powerful force that established companies can call upon to stay ahead of those disrupting millennials.
At Holidaysplease, the free thinking required for one of our most important current projects is being done by Lauren (23), Cait (19) and Megan (23).
Their fresh ideas flow freely without a thought for Viewdata that, no doubt, they’ve never even heard of.