Technology Is The New Middleman Accelerating Growth: Manoj Shrivastava, CIO, EaseMyTrip

With a rich background spanning over a decade in the aviation industry, Manoj Shrivastava, the Chief Information Officer at EaseMyTrip, offers a compelling perspective in an interview with BW CIO on revolutionizing the online travel sector by integrating tech services seamlessly.

India has over 1.2 billion mobile phone users and 600 million smartphone users, as stated by the I&B ministry. With the ongoing travel trend and showcasing it on social media platforms, travelling has become a new hobby for people to experience to the fullest.  

According to a report by Brainy Insights, the worldwide tourism industry is anticipated to reach USD 16.9 trillion by 2030, growing at a 5.4 per cent CAGR from 2022 to 2030. During the predicted period, Asia-Pacific is expected to expand the quickest. 

With a rich background spanning over a decade in the aviation industry, Manoj Shrivastava, Chief Information Officer, EaseMyTrip, offered a compelling perspective on revolutionizing the online travel sector by integrating tech services seamlessly. The opinions presented reflect his personal insights and may not necessarily align with those of his esteemed organisation. 

Citing the transformation as a challenge, he informed that the online concept was started in 2001. He emphasised the use of technology in building better customer experiences and said, "We have to train people internally and externally to provide online help to customers. It is important to provide a hands-on experience so that customers can be educated accordingly”.

He also emphasised that this transformation won't happen overnight. The younger generation is already familiar with these processes and providing online education can empower customers to use these technologies. Furthermore, changes are occurring at an accelerated pace, moving away from manual methods. 

The epidemic has taught us some important lessons in business as well as in people's lives. After a pandemic, technological utilisation has the potential to change the game. Internally, businesses are using Chatbots in large quantities for various reasons. These include lowering the burden on human support staff and offering immediate assistance for common queries and FAQs. 

IATA (The International Air Transport Association) spearheaded a project that transformed the airline sector. It launched NDC (New distribution capability) in 2013 to offer a worldwide booking channel. The idea was to create an application that would directly benefit airlines, allowing them to engage with customers directly and without the need for an intermediary. Any airline website may be used to buy tickets with many tailored features, such as selecting a seat and food, without any problems. 

Leveraging Technology to Ease Travel 

There has been an increase in various online travel agencies following a similar pattern. The challenge remains in innovation to stay relevant and ahead in competition. For innovation, you must understand the customer’s choice and the level of comfort to be provided. In terms of technology, innovation could be anything from operating chatbots and voicebots to connecting via WhatsApp. 

GenAI is another game-changing tool, as companies are seriously utilising it for their output, especially in the manufacturing industry. That can be a resource for analysing historical data and optimising production schedules. Cutting-edge AI models may provide manufacturers with real-time visibility into the whole supply chain, enabling them to make choices based on the most recent data. Gen AI will allow customers with all the necessary information and alerts to be known and addressed. “The beauty of Gen AI lies in providing the services in real-time making your travel seamless and comfortable to utilise your timeframe”, Mr Srivastava added.

IoT is going to be another milestone in the manufacturing and automobile industries. IoT is an interesting use case where any mechanical process taking place can be replaced. "Five years down the line, all those manufacturing units will be seen implementing the IoT in various aspects so that zero errors will occur." highlighted Mr Srivastava.
IoT sensors can continuously check the state of machinery and equipment, which allows predictive maintenance that lowers maintenance expenses and downtime by identifying problems before they lead to a breakdown. 

Blockchain is becoming increasingly popular due to its ability to track and maintain connectivity, throughout the deployment phase. When it comes to improving the customer experience with their database, the questions of where and how to deploy become important. The travel industry can use it to decipher recoded trip histories and provide clients with impersonal service globally. Regulation remains to be a bottleneck. Every country has its own set of regulations, each of which must be standardised to be easily adopted globally. 

Future Ahead

While speaking about upcoming developments in the travel sector, Shrivastava revealed that a single platform will link the internet travel sector. Mobile phone connections will be a point of contact at the airport. Using the phone itself to finish the entire voyage will be a full circle. We can envision a future like that. He even declared that the e-passport would soon be implemented without the need for human participation. 

Embracing technology in the travel industry has led to a trend of backpackers. Srivastava talked about how India has segmented travel across the globe. Backpacker travellers have one single mobile phone operating the entire world map along with them and complete the entire travel journey in 15 days. During the travel, they have a seamless connected booking. We call this concept ‘One Ticket, One World’. With a single ticket number (PNR), you can access all your travel journeys, from bus, train, flights, hotel, etc. "In the future, the one-ticket concept will give you access to all your journeys. It will be implemented globally and will allow the entire journey to be traced and recorded”. 

Fostering Change with Regulations

The emergence of tech tools will potentially invite cybersecurity threats as well. There is a rise in awareness about cybersecurity post-pandemic. As e-commerce platforms are increasing, more people are using various platforms online, which can be a threat to customer data. Compliance is important as per government regulations, which are ensured following the certification process. Data stored in the cloud needs to be safeguarded and protected from external exploitation. Proper authentication and processes need to be followed using a given process, like MFA (multi-factor authentication). The cloud needs to be authenticated whenever you access the database. 

Embracing Sustainability

With an eye toward sustainability, Srivastava learned how technology can both expedite and support the process. Ensuring that the process is transparent is crucial. Using a tech-driven approach makes it clear that many mistakes should be avoided. While expediting the process, care must be taken to guarantee that there is no room for error and that checks and balances are consistently applied. For maximum efficiency, it's crucial to sink your device with the other end of the service provider. The implementation-led environment will be more self-sustaining. 

A decade ago, reaching out to consumers was very expensive, and there was a cost attached to each channel partner. Technology is breaking the rule of reaching out to them with ease and affordable means. A digital transformation is taking place as the screen size is getting smaller with an increase in the number of transactions. Travel technology is no longer a new concept but is growing and upscaling as internet penetration is growing. The physical travel agent has been replaced with an OTA (online travel agency), which aggregates all the flights on a single platform and provides systematic information based on time and cost in real-time for consumers. The world of travel is set to assist and explore technological wonders from the comfort of your place towards a delightful journey.



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