Forecasting the shape and recovery of the travel industry is almost impossible. However, we know from past crises that building up critical workforce capabilities is a necessary step in recovery.
In a travel era defined by rapid change and ongoing disruption, travel agencies will need to ensure their workforce has the right skills and technology to compete and deliver better traveller journeys. AI and automation will see the role of the travel agent become more dynamic, as the World Economic Forum describes, “Personal travel assistants, who are partially data scientists, partially lifestyle gurus,” writes Justin Montgomery, managing director at Amadeus IT Pacific.
“Many travel agencies said they struggle to find people with the right technical skills”
In Amadeus’ report, The Travel Consultant of Tomorrow, more than 50% of travel agency leaders said that their people are the most critical success factor. At the same time, 35% said that recruiting and retaining the right talent was their biggest concern. Many travel agencies said they struggle to find people with the right technical skills to build and manage new technology, alongside uniquely human capabilities such as creative thinking and problem-solving.
According to these leaders, the travel agency workforce will reskill in four critical areas:
Evolve from travel bookers to consulting
With 46% of business leaders planning to invest in automation over the next five years, this technology will free up travel consultants to spend less time on admin and more time providing proactive and personalised support to travellers.
Master the fundamentals of digital technology
Having the right blend of technical skills will be essential, particularly when you consider the role technology has played during the pandemic. Travel consultants will need to master new digital skills such as the ability to analyse traveller data for risk management and use social media to reach new customers.
Build resilience to manage disruptions effectively
The pandemic has also shown us how critical it is to plan and prepare for disruptions. Travel employers will need to consider how to motivate and upskill a workforce that may need to manage disruptions for travellers remotely and adapt processes and operations to alleviate the impact of a crisis.
Strengthen emotional skills for stronger relationships
In these challenging times, a competitive differentiator will be the ability to connect with customers on an emotional level. For travel consultants, this means being seen as more than a travel-booker and honing in on interpersonal skills like empathy to listen and connect with what matters most to travellers.
Recovery will come. Rethinking travel is the first step.