Digital technology served the industry more effectively than traditional options during the Covid-19 pandemic, reveals research released today (Monday 1 November) by WTM London and Travel Forward.
Nearly 700 senior execs from around the globe took part in the WTM Industry Report and were asked to rank the efficacy of a range of technologies and channels. Nearly half the sample (47%) said that digital marketing channels such as search engine optimization, paid search and email marketing were very effective during the pandemic, with a further 30% describing them as quite effective. Only 6% described them an ineffective.
In contrast, only 25% of execs said high street travel agents were very effective at supporting their business during the crisis, with slightly more (31%) saying they were quite effective. A large minority (16%) said high street agents were ineffective.
Generally speaking, direct-to-consumer channels performed the most strongly during the pandemic. Brand web sites, apps and contact centers were described as quite or very effective by more than 70% of the sample, with the number dismissing them as ineffective was in the single digit percentages.
In contrast, traditional media such as print, TV and direct mail were quite or very effective for less than 50%, but a relatively high percentage – 17% – dismissed these channels as ineffective.
Elsewhere, execs were asked specifically about two pre-Covid era’s technology trends. The cloud was effective for more than half the sample (52%), although cloud vendors and account managers will be interested to find out why one-in-ten thought the cloud was ineffective. Similarly, APIs – software which allows two systems to interact with each other – were effective for more than half the sample but still ineffective for 8%.
However, the poorest performing category was bedbanks and aggregators, with less than half (48%) saying these businesses were supportive during the pandemic, the lowest approval rating of any on the list. Again, a significant minority – 13% – dismissed them as ineffective.
In contrast, the best performing technology use case was communication, with both staff and customers. More than 80% of the sample said these tools were effective for internal use, with only 4% saying that these tools fell short. Using technology to talk to external customers worked effectively for nearly three-in-four (74%), with only 6% unsatisfied.
Simon Press, Exhibition Director, WTM London and Travel Forward, said; “This is a fascinating insight into how effective technology – in the broadest sense – was during the height of the pandemic. It shows that the tech landscape is still fragmented with some technologies and/or channels not yet fit for purpose and falling short of what is needed, while others seem to have emerged with universal approval.
“WTM London and its technology-focused sister show Travel Forward are there to help travel companies gauge what sort of technology they need and with whom to partner to rebuild travel.”