While continuing to focus on the safety of our employees and help our customers during COVID-19, here at Betterez we’re optimists and passionate about the travel industry. The timing and volume of the rebound is not known, but it is safe to say that travel will look different in some ways for the foreseeable future. We believe Reservation & Ticketing systems need to be able to support the industry’s rebound and position operators to succeed in the world of travel post COVID-19. Read on to see Betterez’ initial views on 5 must haves of your Reservation & Ticketing system to make the most of your recovery.
1. Confidence to ride, Operators need to convey social distancing
Passengers will want to feel confident and comfortable in selecting intercity bus for travel. We believe operators will need to utilize seat maps for intercity, airport shuttles, casino services, employee/corporate services and tour travel. Easy to use, configurable seat maps will be a must to convey available seats and distances between passengers. Seat maps will also need to be easily editable if for example 2 people from the same family want to sit next to each other, the remainder of the seat map may need to be adjusted quickly to continue selling in a socially distanced model.
2. Low yield near-mid term, Operators need to maximize revenue on every trip
Directionally speaking, most travel industry experts predict a gradual return to pre-COVID capacity levels. This may mean 9-12 months plus. Thus we believe each trip will need to maximize revenue and profitability to help operators make the most out of this period. Dynamic pricing gives the operator ability to manage your trips by time purchase window, yield, refundable/non-refundable, period in time, by product and more. Revenue management of returning ridership will allow operators to make the most out of scaling back, then these pricing practices can be extended into the future allowing the operator to continue to increase revenue and profitability.
3. Everything is contactless, Operators need to refocus on paperless
Many operators have chipped away at going paperless over the last few years, such as in bus-side scanning. Going forward operators will need to market a completely contactless experience and then ensure it is executed on during the passenger’s journey. While there may be differences in geographies and types of travel, such as intercity versus intra-city/urban, and passenger’s ability to move away from cash or in person, we believe operators need to digitize all sales channels, delivery of tickets, and redeeming of tickets. Then over time, operators can phase out any remaining touch aspects of their business processes through technologies such as NFC and bio-metrics.
4. Alignment to essential services, Operators need to manage new business lines and improve passenger travel flexibility
We believe the market will ask for different types of services going forward, for example employers that previously did not provide dedicated employee transportation now will as part of them providing essential services. In addition, passengers will expect greater flexibility from operators to alter travel plans, with a focus on self-service and flexible booking products. Operators will need a multi-use ticketing platform to take advantage of these new opportunities, and manage existing lines of business such as intercity or airport shuttle in the same platform as to not incur complexity in reconciliation or needing to add additional headcount.
5. Overcommunicate, Operators need to get closer to their passengers
Many operators have made great strides in communicating with passengers from trip reminders to service disruption notifications, to post ride surveys. We believe operators will need to double down on passenger communications to better manage expectations and give even more of a sense of confidence that the travel operator is managing their business in a safe and healthy manner. Going forward such communication should be inclusive of every passenger touch point in the journey, and also notify every operator employee or partner that may interact with your passenger. Communication will need to be 2-way, passengers may need to submit travel declarations with health related questions. Such collected data will need to be managed securely and in accordance with such policies as GDPR. A growing trend in airline travel is the requirement for passengers to declare in the booking flow if they will bring their own mask for travel, or purchase from an operator. Special requests like these will need to be fulfilled by reservation systems for bus & coach operators