Why the customer experience is everything when it comes to travel

By Steve Hui, Chief Executive, iFLYflat and Qantas AVRO mentor

Last month I was fortunate enough to travel around the Middle East. As I was making my way from Muscat (the capital of Oman) to Dubai, I couldn’t help but reflect on how different my travel experience was from my first trips many years ago. Not only have locations opened up but how, as a traveller, in the age of technical disruption, you can connect in new ways.

Where I once had long waits at the bus or train station (often not knowing if that printed timetable is still current), or wondering where/when my pre-booked tour guide was meeting me, I was able to utilise affordable global roaming for phone and data to make contact and share our locations.

As both a founder myself and avid jetsetter, minimising friction is one of the biggest challenges for businesses and the travel industry is leading this change. They are thinking deeply about what products and services can offer a more seamless experience, from the moment you start planning, right through to returning home.

The future of travel

Having flown across the globe, a company is only as strong as its commitment to innovation. It’s exciting to see so many brands focused on the personalisation of your experience.

Throughout my travels, I reflected how so many interactions were geared toward making sure I was having the individual experience I was looking for – from a simple welcome card on the bed with my name on it, to a personalised suggest daily itinerary. But now technology is taking this this a new level from video welcomes on your iPhone to SMS Chatbots every step of the way. Experiencing this type of innovation across the travel industry has made me incredibly excited to see where it goes.

As a mentor for the AVRO Accelerator, I have seen brands like Qantas commit to innovation, experimenting with the disruptive technologies that Startups have to offer. When the program launched in 2017, Alan Joyce said they knew they had to look outside to the organisation continue to innovate and connect with customers. That’s pretty exciting as you now have a community of Startup founders and even travellers with great ideas now able to contribute to this movement.

We have already seen Qantas create self-check-in international Kiosks and offer flexible travel bookings through companies like Volantio. So what is next? How can you help me plan my next trip around my interests, reduce the friction as I book, travel and land?

If you are founder thinking of applying for this year’s AVRO Accelerator, your challenge is find ways to create personalised, seamless experiences. How can you revolutionise the customer journey, streamline it, personalise it and give the customer more control. Or can you find smart solutions for Qantas’ people to transform how they work, create smarter and safer operations, and enrich the lives of their customers?

I am looking forward to taking this trip!

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