Wander Vision: How Amadeus is Leading the Comeback for Travel Apps
On June 9th, App Growth Summit held a virtual version for its AGS Seattle 2021 annual mobile event. Leo Geil, Chief Revenue Officer of YouAppi, sat down with Michael Bayle, VP of Retail Customer & Traveler Solutions at Amadeus, to discuss how Amadeus is leading the comeback for travel apps. Take a look below for our top takeaways from the discussion and feel free to check out the full video here.
Takeaway: The pandemic has empowered travel companies by resurrecting people’s use of technology and mobility in particular. An example of this related to travel includes Amadeus’ Traveler ID which gives travelers the ability to validate their check-in process by uploading their data directly to airlines.
Leo: Hey Michael, how are you? Ironically we're talking about the travel industry today and I think the first time we got to know each other was when we traveled together to Sicily. And now you sit in Madrid. Tell us about what you're doing there?
Michael: I work for Amadeus, which is based here in Madrid. We're a large technology firm that really powers the ecosystem of travel from airports to hotels to airlines, and of course to those who sell travel experiences to consumers, and I particularly look after an area that focuses in retail
Leo: Awesome, congratulations. With Amadeus being a prolific travel company powering the back end of these reservation systems for all the world's travel companies, in what ways has 2020 accelerated the technology and innovation that you guys are focusing on to come back stronger and bigger than ever?
Michael: Yeah, of course, you know, there's this interesting meme that’s circulating around that’s asking who's responsible for your digital strategy, and they ask, is it the CEO, CTO, or is it a C19, right, and it's been a godsend. Unfortunately the pandemic, of course, has affected millions, but genuinely for old dinosaurs like you and I in the mobile industry, it has resurrected what we've long wished for, which is people's use of technologies and mobility in particular. To have access to things at their fingertips more tangibly.
We're quite excited that we've introduced a lot of different elements to help alleviate frustrations of the traveler, and those who interact with the traveler. So more relevantly, we have something called Traveler ID, as interestingly named and also as obviously named as you can think. Of course having a credential adjacent to your passport and your visa eligibility now is presented as your COVID results, or your vaccination results, and we've been able to create this in short order including large airlines, such as air Europa. When you as a consumer cross all the different steps you need to do to validate your check-in process, we're empowering that part of it, so that the consumer can feel very safe to upload their data to the airline.
Takeaway: Creating trust with your users is important for travel companies to implement technology that will form a more seamless travel experience for their users, and re-engage former consumers.
Leo: So what you're saying is now you have a kind of travel ID or a travel badge that lets you travel seamlessly, maybe with less friction, throughout the world?
Michael: Yeah, unfortunately it doesn't yet apply for discounts at the rooftop of the W Barcelona, but it does work to get you on board the plane.
Leo: And so, you'll see all these other companies implementing this type of technology also?
Michael: I think there is a lot of opportunity here, and the challenge today of course is that there's a myriad of different providers, and you really genuinely as a consumer, don't know who are the ones you can trust, and who may have more nefarious motivations. So, by having something that's an industry standard, and we are considered an industry standard at Amadeus, we feel there's a good ecosystem that will gravitate to this, just like air Europa has.
Leo: Interesting, so now we're gonna have a much more seamless travel experience that takes this COVID-19 world, and adopts some of the the challenges we're facing. How are you going to go about re-engaging some of those former consumers?
Michael: Yeah, it's a great question. I think first and foremost, and I applaud the states for leading the vaccination efforts globally, but a lot of countries are far from there. So I think we're going to be at the mercy of the Covid tests to start off. People don't know, and it's a very ever-flowing subject matter of whether or not I need a test, and within what duration. It really differs by country and eligibility of countries. So more pointedly, we've encouraged our traveler sellers to get in the game by also selling relief that a consumer can get testing. One functional example of this is in Germany, many of our travel sellers and our agencies, particularly those with brick and mortar, have partnered with the right laboratory companies to create testing facilities on the spot. So that's the first example. Other examples we're seeing from airlines, and I believe United Airlines is one of the leading examples of this in the States, is being able to order testing through their applications so that you can have quick delivery of the self-diagnosing testing equipment, so that you can then use those results with certainty as part of your travel experience.
Takeaway: The emergence of travel bubbles is increasing the confidence in future travel, despite restrictions.
Leo: Certainly for the next 12 to 18 months, in your opinion, how far along are we in this recovery on travel? Are we just scratching the surface? I'm sure Europe is different from the states. Could you talk to me a little bit about that?
Michael: It's a challenge to answer this, and unfortunately, as we've all seen, there are ebbs and flows. In markets like India, I believe they are going backwards. So we are constantly in interaction with what the government bodies are doing and keeping close tabs towards those regulations. We’re also seeing the emergence of travel bubbles. If you look at Australia and New Zealand, I think they've very comfortably said, don't come visit us anytime soon right, so Australia is fairly closed until mid 2022. However, people can freely travel from Australia to New Zealand and a pocket of islands within. We’re also seeing this concept of travel bubbles emerge in Asia. So I think with the travel bubbles we can have confidence that travel is beginning to emerge, no matter how some restrictions may otherwise appear.
Takeaway: The Amadeus CheckMyTrip app can provide comfort to the traveler by creating a touchless travel experience.
Leo: That’s awesome, I noticed you guys have a pretty cool app. What’s the name of the app?
Michael: It’s called CheckMyTrip. It's something I'm quite proud of and it was one of the reasons I was recruited to Amadeus. It's not something I continue to manage directly, but we've been able to collect millions of users through it, and it's actually won an award for best travel application for the last three years in a row. These days there’s a lot of fluidity with cancellations so it’s important to update the consumers as frequently as you can, firstly, and secondly to remind them again of those regulations we spoke of, because they could change when you have left your home market and when you're looking to return. Lastly, it is meant to give comfort to the traveler, all the while, that there's ways for them to purchase a touchless experience. All of this is at your fingertips within CheckMyTrip. We work with a very strong network of partners to provide those services and even services to leapfrog the queues, which you might see when you arrive at the airport in terms of fast track and things that we take for granted as premium travelers.
Leo: Excellent. I'm definitely going to download CheckMyTrip. That sounds like a great tool to have when I'm restarting my travel plans, especially internationally. So, Michael, my most curious question for you is when you start to travel the world again, where's the first stop?
Michael: Well I have to say, I've had this developing bucket list. I'm involved a lot in managing teams and the Middle East specifically, and quite frankly, outside of Dubai, I haven't had much experience there. Just before the pandemic there was a campaign that talked about all kinds of rivers and forests and abilities to do whitewater rafting in Saudi Arabia. So, Saudi Arabia and Oman and some of these places that I've just neglected because I never appreciated they would have tourism on top of their list have really been considerate to recognize that shortcoming, and have actually flaunted what they have as natural resources to attract tourists to come visit them.
Also, we’ve been trying to recruit some of the folks we know in common who are living in Miami to do some sailing trips in Greece, so I'll be in Greece for most of August, and then I'm open-minded to other places.
Leo: That’s awesome, I'll hit you up for those lists, that's for sure. So Michael, thank you for your time today.
Michael: Definitely, take care, my friend.
As travel rates continue to increase, keep a look out for the next piece in our Wander Vision series. Be sure to also check out the CheckMyTrip app, which you will certainly be needing when you book your travel arrangements for the next in-person AGS event on September 2nd in San Francisco.