CES Asia 2019 is taking place in Shanghai, China this week, featuring a fascinating panel discussion about travel and tourism technology.
The President of Delta Airlines in Greater China and Singapore, Wong Hong, the MSC Cruises President of Greater China, Helen Huang, and CNN Business Programming Editor, Michelle Toh, all took to the stage to discuss the future of travel technology.
Ms. Toh led the discussion and questions.
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The travel and hospitality industry is at the forefront of many leading innovations, and incorporating cutting edge technology solutions into their business models.
The three leaders from these renowned global brands took to the stage to inform us of the ways in which technology is being utilized and used to transform their business.
Something that will benefit all of us who travel regularly.
Customer satisfaction a huge part of innovating solutions
Wong and Huang both agreed that passengers' journeys begin from the moment they purchase their ticket to the moment they safely land.
The tricky part is finding solutions that achieve customer service satisfaction in huge markets, such as the U.S. and China.
Wong highlighted transfers between airports as the toughest travel experience for customers. As a result, Delta has embarked upon a project of improving the transfer issue.
As an example, the company has to draw huge amounts of data from all member airlines of Sky Team, the airline alliance Delta is a part of. A huge task, but something they are working towards together, to improve customer satisfaction.
Tech and data to improve travel experiences
The aim of the game is using tech to provide better service. Huang points to the need for facilitating processes in order for their cruise customers to have a stress-free experience.
Methods such as AliPay, a Chinese online payment platform, and WeChat, a multi-purpose Chinese platform, for quick online payments facilitate the customer experience.
Going a step further, there are now virtual reality experiences so that passengers can have questions answered and a better idea of how cruises work, prior to going onboard, keeping them informed and relaxed during the booking process.
Millions of data are collected from feedback, giving insights on which points need to be addressed, and how technology may facilitate that.
What more do customers gain from these advancements?
They create more flexibility and choice.
Customers are now able to make online changes to their bookings, even after the purchase has been made, for example, seating upgrades. Something made easier, thanks to new technology.
Cruise ships follow a similar fashion, by using tech's advancements to provide unforgettable memories onboard. For example, conveniently booking their restaurant reservation via an app.
By providing a memorable experience thanks to seamless and easy-to-use technology, the goal is that the passengers will re-book, keeping them happy, and, in turn, generating more revenue for travel companies. A positive experience all around.
What does the future hold?
Hints towards more personalized services both on flights and on cruise ships were alluded to. By harnessing the massive amount of data from each passenger and collating it, airlines such as Delta will be able to know all about travellers' preferences before they even step onto the plane.
Much of the same can be said for cruise ships, said Huang, but as each cruise ship moves independently, it will take more time to collate all data and find a way of sharing it across ships.
One way they are already tackling this is with Zoe: a virtual assistant who talks to crew members and teach them everything they need to know about the ship.
Travelling is expected to keep developing for the better, thanks to these innovations. There's still a fair bit of work left to be done, though, as the industry is constantly changing and improving.