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Travel in general, but especially the business travel industry, is constantly innovating and changing. To make sure that we do not fall behind, we continually need to think how we can reduce inefficiency, and, more importantly, how we can enhance our effectiveness. And this is where lean thinking comes in.

“Lean is about centring all thoughts and actions of the customer. That has meant a fundamental shift in our mindset. It requires us to build a culture that understands and responds to our customers’ increasingly complex and changing needs. By adopting a lean approach, we can detect and react to change quickly and well” explains Wolfgang Krips, Executive Vice President, Global Operations, and General Manager, Amadeus Data Processing.

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Passengers and travel companies expect travel IT to improve. They expect system stability online; they expect user interfaces to get better at anticipating the demand for particular kinds of travel, sensing it, and responding quickly with solutions. In their different ways, they expect new apps. And they want all this cheap.

In today’s travel IT, both system complexity and costs are hard to control. By contrast, Lean IT means cutting out ‘fat’ and all wasteful activities. This includes, all the activities that do not create value for the customer. It means doing things right (efficiency) and, even more, doing the right things by the customer and every element in the supply chain (effectiveness).

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5 Tips to help you run a lean travel company

With new players in the travel market, by contrast, lean techniques make possible the installation and operation of hundreds of servers, in line with urgent client demands.

How then does Lean IT help a travel company rapidly bring innovations to the market?

How can a travel company quickly introduce new apps, or mobilise hardware and software, or adopt a more localised approach to demand management in hardware and software?

The answer lies in how the travel company manages its IT.

How Lean IT benefits your customers

It is important to make a start. As we have observed, gains through leanness are not won overnight. In particular, it is vital to win staff over to the new ways of working.

Yet, once this is done, your travel company can look forward to rapid rates of new service and app development. They will be able to make more money from cleverly spotted market niches. And, better than they are at present, they will be adept at personalising their offers to the needs of customers as individuals.

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The customer journey is a physical business. Here is a concluding short checklist of quick wins that can assist your travel company in going over to lean working:

  • Draw up complete maps of typical customer journeys (see below), from home to destination and back again.
  • Understand how your service creates value to the customer on his journey and what are the relevant dimensions / metrics related to that.
  • Map your key processes along those metrics and identify snags / problems

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Travel has many obstacles to surmount if it is truly to reflect the online immediacy of the 21st century. There remains a world still to win. That, however, is a compelling reason why travel companies should start gaining expertise and experience in lean sooner, rather than later.

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This article was based on Amadeus’ white paper Cleared for take-off: Strategies in Lean IT and how they’re relevant to the travel business, by James Woudhuysen.

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