The world is becoming increasingly digitized, consumer behaviour is changing, and competition is higher than ever before. Travel and hospitality are all about experiences – new places to go, things to see, people and cultures to interact with. But how does one cater to this growing demand, and, more importantly for a business, how can one anticipate their needs?
This is called Anticipatory Design – The ability of a tool to anticipate what a customer may want. Companies such as Amazon and Netflix are amongst those who do this by tracking consumer behaviour and accordingly suggesting accurate options/recommendations whenever you visit their websites.
The advent of new and emerging technologies has opened up several opportunities for businesses to collect, organize analyze and utilize this data effectively. This is giving them the ability to extract meaningful and actionable insights in real-time, which helps them eliminate redundancies and unlock additional revenue streams. But the ultimate user experience (UX) is about mapping a complete data eco-system and building mind maps to contextually inform the customer with the required information at every step.
Let’s understand this through my favourite real-world anticipatory design example. When my father walks in after work, my mother knows exactly what to give him – coffee or water or something to eat… This happens with years of ‘data mapping’ and the solutions are based on ‘data feeds’ – facial mood, visible fatigue, voice tone etc.
Now, companies are trying to replicate this – earlier this year, Lufthansa launched its Mobile Inspiration Tool backed by AI, which engages users by recommending ‘life-changing’ destinations that they can plan to visit. Users simply have to log on to the website’s ‘places’ page and click a picture of their surroundings, based on which the smart tool will search through an extensive database and recommend a special place.
In this way, the brand is aiming to inspire more people to travel (using their services), capturing a significant portion of consumer mindshare, and simultaneously collecting and using relevant data.
Another example is of KLM, where the airline has launched voice-based travel booking, just to reduce the fatigue of going to a website to book. By simply speaking to its smart assistant, Blue-Bot, customers are provided with flight recommendations at an instant, which they can then book directly from a link which the bot sends them.
However, User Experience is not just about how things work at the front end. It is also about how they are engineered behind the scenes. Here’s how implementing a robust UX in the B2B space can have a large-scale impact on ROI at every step of the travel value chain –
The Impact UX Can Have In A B2B Setup
UX is an essential component of digital wellness. As per a study by WHO and Quartz, digital wellness is critical to ensuring that employees feel good about their work and helps them manage it better, as well as disconnect from work when required. In the travel and hospitality industry, the functions which are tasked with unlocking business growth are primarily those of revenue and distribution management.
The UX that these employees engage with can determine their levels of productivity, enable cross-functional collaboration and help them identify new opportunities to boost revenue. Let us look into the key role of UX in influencing the way they work.
In the B2B space, companies often think that if the UX is not good or is difficult to understand, then they will eventually get the hang of it. This is the wrong mindset. As mentioned above, a badly designed UX reduces productivity and can hamper the effectiveness of an employee.
Taming the information
UX helps employees take better control of data and insights generated in order to manage revenues better. This is where a good UX will enable them to filter and search according to their goal, include different view options, schedule reports, and present information via insightful dashboards which are easy to read and scan through.
This creates on-demand data, enabling users to take better quality decisions faster, thereby resulting in better turnaround time for value generation.
Extracting insights based on context
With the ever-growing amounts of data in the fragmented, volatile travel and hospitality space, it is essential to have access to relevant information as and when they need it. Weeding through vast amounts of data is time-consuming and can hinder productivity.
Therefore, a well-thought-out UX will help one get contextual information without wasting time. This can be in the form of user-access based information, which only displays certain information that a user requires at that point of time for a particular action. This can be on the basis of geographical factors such as region, country etc., demographics, or others based on the need.
Ease of use and access
The ease with which employees can access as well as process this information is also a big part of UX. This can include factors such as shallow navigation (quick findability), clean layout and structure. The colors used can also have an impact, to highlight or draw attention to critical areas – such as red indicating losses and green indicating gains.
An important factor to consider, here, is that an interface that seems familiar will always resonate with users, making it easier for them to start working with it productively and consequently see faster more effective results. Additionally, coach marks and contextual tooltips are a great way to get new users oriented with the interface quickly.
Given its fast-paced and unpredictable nature, the travel and hospitality space involves multiple variables at every stage, requiring professionals in the sector to be on their feet at all times. Decision-makers need to have access to relevant and accurate data insights at an instant, but also the kind that they are able to make sense of and act upon immediately.
This is why it is essential for the interface they use to be able to deliver on all fronts, in order to make processes simpler and more convenient, bringing about better results and confidence, rather than adding additional complexities.
A comprehensive, scalable and dynamic UX will go a long way in catering to users with various business needs, be it better management of data, unearthing new trends and patterns, or executing mandated actions. In the bigger picture, each of these can make or break efforts to deliver elevated experiences to the end-user, generating greater value and maximizing revenue for the long term.