The latest study by HFS Research, in partnership with WNS, sheds light on the pressing concerns plaguing travel and hospitality firms. A survey of 315 industry participants across airlines, airports, hotels and online travel agencies reveals a resounding consensus: The double blow of adapting to changing customer expectations and navigating digital disruption is the primary challenge facing organizations today.

Figure 1: Challenges Facing the Travel and Hospitality Industry

Source: HFS Research, 2024

At the heart of this challenge lies the need to revamp service offerings to align with evolving customer needs while simultaneously attracting and retaining top talent. It's a delicate balancing act that underscores the imperative of staying competitive and securing human capital in an increasingly dynamic landscape.

Operationalizing Customer-centricity

The demand for personalized, and even hyper-personalized, services stands as one of the paramount expectations of the modern consumer. Safety and wellness standards are also high on the priority list. However, when considering the environmental impact of purchases, opinions are varied and often conflicting.

But what does putting the customer at the center of operations truly mean? It's more than just a superficial makeover or the implementation of a rudimentary chatbot. True customer-centricity requires a fundamental re-orientation of the organizational mindset – a pivot from the inside out.

Operationalizing customer-centricity demands a holistic approach – from the frontlines to the back-office. Travel and hospitality firms must undergo a process of internal re-organization aimed at aligning every facet of their operations with the needs and expectations of the customer. This entails not only modernizing legacy systems and processes but also leveraging the broader ecosystem to drive innovation and efficiency.

Figure 2: The Need for Organizations to Change the Operating Model

Source: HFS Research, 2024

Digital Maturity and Operational Challenges

Yet, as the survey data reveals, travel and hospitality firms are grappling with varying degrees of digital maturity, with many lagging in critical areas such as sales, marketing, procurement and HR. Legacy systems and outdated processes remain stubborn barriers to progress, hindering efforts to adapt to the shifting sands of customer expectations.

Only 27 percent of travel and hospitality firms believe they have achieved full digital maturity.
Source: HFS Research, 2024

The path ahead demands a concerted effort to enhance digital maturity and embrace operational changes aligned with the evolving landscape of customer expectations. It's a journey that requires a strategic focus on modernization, connectivity and agility – a journey that promises to unlock untapped value and propel travel and hospitality firms into a new era of growth and resilience.

Dive deeper into the insights and recommendations, outlined for the travel and hospitality industry, in the comprehensive report by HFS Research in partnership with WNS.

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