In the face of intense competition and online price aggregators, travel companies have to provide unique experiences to set themselves apart according to John O’Neill, Managing Director of Komosion.
Mr O’Neill will be sharing insights from his unique experiences – which include working on the 2000 Sydney Olympics, managing Tourism NSW as CEO and working with clients like Flight Centre and Accor at Komosion – at the first annual Travel Industry Exhibition and Conference.
In an interview ahead of his presentation, Mr O’Neill said that with the intense competition in the travel industry, including online transparency of pricing, customers have more power than ever – and they’re prepared to wield it.
“In the age of digital disruption, brands are much more about ‘lived experience’ than ‘perceived experience’, and customer loyalty is much shallower,” said Mr O’Neill.
“You have to stand for something beyond price.
“One of our clients, the boutique luxury hotel group Lancemore, aims to provide its customers ‘moments of bliss’ – which could be as simple as dinner and wine under the stars. It’s a much more compelling proposition than just a room for the night”
Mr O’Neill said that the most important leadership quality for businesses suffering from disruption is the ability to look at a business from the outside in, to stand in the shoes of a customer
“You have to ask ‘Am I really giving them value and an experience above a transaction?’
“Work out how and where you want to be different – what you want to be famous for – and be single-minded about that.
“If you could start again with a blank slate, how might you be doing things differently today?
“If you would be doing things differently, then you probably need to find a way to change your business, regardless of the challenges.”
Ultimately though, Mr O’Neill thinks that customer service is still at the heart of the travel business
“The travel industry is outstanding at customer service, it has to be. Customers must feel like they matter.
“Perfect service is getting a cool glass of water just before you realised you were thirsty, it’s feeling carefully attended to.
“This is the lifeblood of the industry and the reason customers will stay loyal.”
A range of perspectives on the challenges and opportunities facing the travel industry will be presented throughout the 2 day conference. Other speakers include Michael Chase-Smith, Executive Director of Orbit World Travel and Zelda La Grange, a former Presidential Aide to Nelson Mandela.
Conference tickets are available here.
The 2017 Travel Industry Exhibition and Conference will be held from 20-21 July at the Crystal Palace in Sydney’s Luna Park, and 25-26 July at the Melbourne Conference and Exhibition Centre.
The free Travel Industry Exhibition is taking place alongside the conference.
Delegates and trade visitors will have a chance to see and discuss the latest products, services and innovations that are setting the travel industry on fire.