Travel trade will be needed, along with technology, to alleviate stress points for travellers Travel trade will be needed, along with technology, to alleviate stress points for travellers

Tech, agents and group operators all in mix to alleviate travel pains

While technology will obviously have a key role in alleviating stress points at airports in other parts of overseas journeys, the travel trade globally will also be drawn upon to make sure clients are properly prepared.

This was made clear during a Tourism Industry Aotearoa summit yesterday, where Matteo Zanarini, area manager South Pacific for the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said that changing requirements, rules and checks could extend customs clearance to 5.5 hours. That is if travel numbers reached even 75% of pre-Covid levels.

Zanarini outlined the IATA Travel Pass and its importance in smoothing out the process and making sure all the required documentation was in one place and easily accessible.

Leanne Geraghty, chief customer and sales officer with Air New Zealand, says one of the carrier’s core ambitions is to be a ‘leading digital airline’, investing in technology to provide a seamless and enhanced customer experience.

Rebecca Ingram, general manager NZ and government relations with Tourism NZ, says it will be crucial for authorities to be clear about requirements. These need to be passed onto the trade to ensure they have the right information.

She says the travel trade will play an increasingly important role in giving clients confidence around travel. ‘Having someone who can guide and enable them, and guide them through the procedures will be critical.’

She says the same driver is likely to see an increase in group travel, decreasing the frictions at airports by having someone else do much of the work for them.

‘I think we are starting to see examples of that, but they will likely be smaller groups – 10 people instead of 40. It will be interesting to see how that plays out across different itineraries.

Geraghty also sees an ongoing role for group travel.

‘That has been a strong component of our domestic travel (during the pandemic) and we anticipate that it will be for some international markets.’

Karl Woodhead, acting general manager, tourism with Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment, says that in the past more and more people were booking direct.

‘There will be a move back to people going through other mediums, including travel agents because of the uncertainties around the world. Managing these as an individual traveller will be very difficult.’

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