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Guido Verweij, is the Managing Director, Africa, for Travelport, a leading travel commerce platform, that is based in the UK. In this interview with Ugo Aliogo, he speaks about how technology is improving the travel commerce business in Africa

Travelport recently conducted a research on global digital travel solutions. What inspired this research?

Our purpose as a company is to build leading technology that makes the experience of buying and managing travel continually better. It is therefore important we fully understand demand and usage of digital travel tools in strategically important countries, like Nigeria.

What did the findings from the research say about the travel behavior /experiences of individuals?

The results of the Global Digital Traveler Research 2018 highlighted the increasing popularity in Nigeria of digital tools and services for every stage of the journey – from research right through to the very end of the trip. This demand for digital solutions is only going to continue as people seek ever more ways to improve convenience and enhance their overall experience, not only where travel is concerned, but in every part of their lives.

Apart from the individual behaviors of travelers, are there any emerging trends in the travel solution industry as a whole?

From a travel tech perspective, we believe that there are five key technologies that will continue to shape travel experiences in the short to mid-term. The first is the Internet of Things, which relates to the interconnection – via the Internet – of computing devices that are embedded in everyday objects required to send and receive data at speed. This can help improve things like real-time updates on the status of flights and baggage tracking, or other devices as GPS, that work with Update garmin nuvi devices that have all the more recent maps for travel.

The second is mobile. Mobile acts as a personal travel companion. Right through from the point of search to the point of return, it determines traveler’s experience of certain products and the overall journey. It offers a means of continuous, one-to-one engagement, enabling different offers and the availability of services to be tailored to an individual’s specific preferences or geographical location. The third is Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI can unlock insights to create the personalised, tailored and customised experiences travelers crave. But you need to constantly inform AI and that’s where the four technology comes in, Big Data. Data is the fuel that powers commercial intelligence. In the travel industry, specifically, by analysing a complex set of data points like travel history and demographics, predictive analytics can essentially plot travelers’ next moves before they even know what they are themselves. To utilise this data, we need access to significant quantities of computing power. Some of this can be provided by cloud-based infrastructure, the fifth technology. Cloud computing technology enables data and content to be moved with relative ease, as well as computed and delivered as close to the point of consumption geographically as possible.