Last week I had the great pleasure of attending the Asia Pacific Travelport Live conference in Bangkok and got to talk with many travel agents from Australia and across the region. The main topic the conference covered was that change is not coming, but that it is here. When you sit in a conference session and the terms chatbot, artificial intelligence, the internet of things, big data and NDC are all referred to on multiple occasions, you definitely tune in. As a technology company it is very clear Travelport is all over these
things as they relate to the travel industry and I am happy to extend a warm congratulations to all involved for bringing together such an interesting and thought-provoking group of people to talk about the
change that is upon us.
The travel industry is still run by people and I suspect that will be the case for decades to come, but all of these new tech access components cannot be ignored. The world has changed and tech is firmly implanted
in our hands. This is clear as the consumer moves quickly to rely upon smartphones as their preferred method to interact with the world and travel. To the point, it remains a fact that there are approximately one million (WTAAA survey 2017) consumer facing travel consultants in the world. That is a sales force that would be difficult to replicate in any other industry.
In Australia, we remain a very strong human industry with some 21,000 full time workers working on the front line as travel consultants selling travel every day. The total number of people tallies to 32,000 full time equivalents working in the travel agency community.
Even with all the tech talk that went on at Travelport Live, it is clear nobody is saying that people will be removed. In the end the world needs someone to turn the computers on and off, right?
On the capturing of data, I am really pleased with the latest set of AFTA Fact Sheets that have been released for all in the industry to use and to assist in understanding how the in direct distribution industry
is going. CLICK HERE to see the latest industry data.
Australia is now the eighth largest outbound travel industry in the world by numbers. We have 14 million passports on issue and the value of the outbound industry tops $37 billion. Anyone in the Aussie travel industry who thinks agents are not important to the future of distribution better think again, because while a chatbot might tell you what you want to hear, a travel agent can tell you where to go.