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Covid-19 has forced travel companies to digitise at speed or risk failure

As the pandemic transforms tourism, travel companies are adapting to an increasingly digital world.

The Covid-19 pandemic upended our way of living and put some of life’s most enjoyable experiences on ice. Travel was one of the most heavily impacted industries and the pandemic-infused freeze caused a massive cost to the global economy. This cost is predicted to reach $4trn by the end of this year. Tourist arrivals globally were down by 87 per cent in January 2021 compared with January 2020, and the numbers haven’t bounced back to their pre-pandemic levels several months on.

Before Covid-19, international tourism was steadily growing year-on-year, but this trend was swiftly thrown into reversal, practically overnight. Even as travel slowly begins to recover, companies are faced with new Covid-19-related challenges, such as demand for strengthened health and safety requirements, complications related to the unpredictability of different countries’ Covid-19 restrictions, and the implementation of new checks around testing and vaccine status.

For more information about Hexaware’s TensaiTM suite for Travel and Tourism, download the white paper.

On the brighter side, the pandemic has also forced companies in the travel and tourism businesses to innovate, rethink ways of working, and adapt quickly to an increasingly digital world that seeks to minimise human contact – at least for the foreseeable future.

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To meet the business challenges of Covid-19, there is a renewed impetus to modernise travel businesses, starting with digital infrastructure. Many travel and tourism businesses are weighed down by monolithic legacy systems, which prevent them from fulfilling their potential in terms of scale and efficiency. The impact of Covid-19 is forcing travel businesses to shrug off siloed systems, embrace cloud and automate backroom processes at speed, or risk failure.

Research shows that business leaders at large organisations, including airlines and airports, are eager to discover how automation can boost revenues and cut costs. A 2020 McKinsey survey revealed that two-thirds of large businesses are now piloting automation services in at least one division. How equipped travel and tourism businesses are to excel over the next decade will be dependent on the extent they embrace next-era technologies.

Technology like Hexaware’s TensaiTM suite of IT automation services can help businesses weave automation into the fabric of their digital architecture, from the bottom up. Automating functions like the marketing and sales processes, customer interaction, document generation, invoicing, finances and reporting will be invaluable to travel businesses. As businesses build their digital service offering, smooth-running digital infrastructure that not only keeps everything whirring under the hood but also provides data insights that can be translated into business intelligence, becomes essential.

“We have a repository of bots, and we keep on continuously building it up for proactively managing various application and infrastructure incidents linked to availability, performance degradation, security drifts, etc., while enabling self-healing for the issues that end users might encounter directly, like printer configuration and password resets. All of these can be automated with Hexaware’s TensaiTM suite,” Hemant Vijh, executive vice president at Hexaware, tells Spotlight.

Hexaware’s automation-as-a-service can seamlessly automate repetitive manual tasks and free up employees for more valuable work. It connects discrete systems and data pools, and places the business in the control room, with a view of how different parts connect.

Placing automation at the heart of a company’s digital machinery means more sophisticated automation can be layered on top, such as drawing on myriad data sources to anticipate demand and optimise pricing amid Covid-19-induced uncertainty, or revitalising omni-channel commerce with machine learning and big data analytics.

Digital innovation that allows companies to create efficiencies, capitalise on data-driven analytics and craft personalised travel experiences has been at the forefront of leading travel and tourism companies’ ambitions in recent years. Now is the ideal time for them to forge ahead with this agenda. Digitising at scale will get businesses in the right position to deliver rapid innovation and meet the demands of the post-Covid-19 world.

While some estimates say that travel will not return to pre-Covid-19 levels until 2023 at the earliest, other industry experts predict a boom once the pandemic recedes. In the US, those at higher income levels have a savings rate that is 10 to 20 per cent higher now than before the pandemic and are eager to spend money on travel they cancelled or delayed during the pandemic. This is likely to be the story in similar economies. Will your travel business be ready to harness a potential surge in travellers, and deliver the streamlined, customer-friendly and secure service that globetrotters have come to expect?

Despite the blow Covid-19 struck to the travel industry, now is not the time to slow down. Companies that grasp the opportunity to push ahead with a digital-first agenda will emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic in a fortified position, ready to face the challenges of the next era of travel.

For more information about Hexaware’s TensaiTM suite for Travel and Tourism, download the white paper.

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