Service beyond the sell-by date

Service beyond the sell-by date

A recent study by Carlson Wagonlit Travel has discovered that business travellers tend to take four technology devices with them on trips. The survey of more than 1,900 business travellers found that, on average, they carry four different types of technology (mobile phone, tablet, laptop, etc.), with the smartphone being the one “travel tool they can’t live without.”

Of course, this preference to carry several connected devices isn’t limited to business travel. For example, when I am off on vacation, I will have with me my mobile, tablet and laptop – the mobile for instant communication, the tablet for more leisurely browsing & reading and the laptop for work.

You will know what devices you take with you but I think I am quite a typical traveller. I want to stay online and connected. I don’t like my email to build up in my inbox so I check this every day. I am not that interested in posting my holiday photos and comments on social media but certainly Millennials, Gen Y and Gen Z will want to be doing this via Snapchat, Twitter, WhatsApp and so on.

So we have the devices. What about the connectivity?

Following a long campaign and a series of staged roaming price cuts, the EU Commission finally put in place a long-cherished aim – the ability for Europeans to make same-cost mobile calls and data downloads irrespective of which EU country they are in. This became effective 15th June.

Travellers still need to be careful about getting caught out in some non-EU countries such as Switzerland, Andorra, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, which are not formally part of the EU or even the European Economic Area. (Of course, it remains to be seen whether UK nationals will continue to benefit from this after Brexit but let’s hope so.)

Thus, our travellers have their online devices with them, pervasive connectivity in Europe and even outside Europe are probably hooked up to some other mobile network roaming deal or wifi.

This presents a great opportunity of which many travel companies are not yet taking advantage.  Traditionally, the travel industry sells its products ahead of the date of usage. Our customers book their flights, hotels, excursions, etc. way ahead of the dates that these products will actually be consumed. As a result, for many travel companies once the tickets have been bought or the reservations made, it’s ‘job done and let’s move onto the next customer.’

There is a real opportunity, though, to continue to sell products to our customers whilst they are on their trips. Excursions and sight-seeing trips are an obvious product but there are many, many more, for example, restaurant vouchers, room and transport upgrades, car rental.

Selling these in-trip products should not be positioned as overt sales but ought to be part of a high-service ethic.  We want our customers to make the most of their vacations and business trips. What can we do to help this? If the answer includes selling some additional products then it is win-win for us and our customers.

So think about your own business. What online services would make life better for your customers when they are in-trip? If this involves additional sales, so much the better. There is money to be made from service beyond the sell by date and I believe that, so far, only a small minority of travel companies are taking advantage of this.

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Paul Richer is Senior Partner of Genesys, a management consultancy specialising in providing advice on technology for the travel, tourism and hospitality industries. Genesys has built a worldwide reputation for its knowledge and experience of new system procurement, online technology and strategies including website audits and online booking systems, reviewing and formulating companies’ IT strategies and more. Clients include many of the best known names in travel. Paul has co-authored several reports examining the impact of technology on the distribution of travel, including “Distribution Technology in the Travel Industry” originally published by Financial Times Retail and “Marketing Destinations Online – Strategies for the Information Age” published by the World Tourism Organisation. He has presented at and chaired many online travel conferences, is regularly quoted in the press and has also been invited to make several appearances on television to debate the subject. Prior to founding Genesys in 1994, Paul was Business Development Director of Finite Group plc and Head of the Group’s IT strategy consultancy. He holds an MBA from Cranfield School of Management, is a Fellow of the Institute of Travel & Tourism and Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. More information at

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