How to Handle the IT Talent Gap in Travel and Hospitality in 2022?

Flexibility and elasticity: these are no longer abstract notions – they have become vital operational components for the Travel industry. As new post-Covid restrictions continue to fluctuate, companies have begun to require both flexibility and elasticity across their budgeting, operations, and staffing. There is also an urgent demand for well-seasoned tech professionals with industry-specific experience who can help cope with these complex situations.
9 min read
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By Vasily Malinov
Vice President, Travel, Transportation & Hospitality
How to Handle the IT Talent Gap in Travel and Hospitality in 2022?

In addition to managing a massive talent shortage, businesses must cope with the trend of investing ahead of revenue and lean budgeting. Companies prefer to invest in projects that show signs of resilience, rather than projects that prioritize innovation or expansion.

Here are the main areas of investment you should consider accelerating for your business:

1. Automation Is the New Black

Before the pandemic, the Travel, Transportation and Hospitality industry took a gradual approach to adopting new technologies and processes. Today, companies feel significantly more vulnerable and are working to advance their technology instead of going with the flow. The industry’s rapidly changing customer journey has pushed companies to streamline and reorganize services.

Consider improving customer service and travelers’ experiences by implementing AI/ML-driven booking and reservations systems, GDS, revenue management, or hospitality systems such as PMS and HMS. These tools allow you to gain information about your customers and their preferences automatically and make predictions. That is why ML and AI can be considered the most reasonable investment in the upcoming year.

Right before the pandemic, two-thirds of organizations were piloting business automation, compared to 57% in 2018, according to a McKinsey survey. A separate global survey of senior-level executives found that 67% of executives had accelerated the deployment of automation and AI during the pandemic. The trend to invest in these areas will likely to become dominant in the following years.

In terms of uncertainty, making Automation a strategic priority may become a cornerstone for Travel businesses

2. Digital Transformations Can Preserve Resilience

To preserve the state of resilience, companies should invest in digital transformations alongside legacy optimizations and cloud migration. Going digital is not new, but the pandemic boosted this process and acted as a wake-up call for the Travel industry. As companies continue to cut budgets, preserving resiliency and efficiency has become increasingly important.

According to a report from Skift, 57% percent of Travel industry professionals reported that Covid prompted the transition to digital in their companies. The category of “digital transformation” encompasses a variety of other areas of transformation that are critical for companies, including legacy modernization and systems consortium. Linking multiple systems is one of the main pain points for big companies, as unlinked systems may cause data losses, which can disable complex forecasts, undermine valuable insights and make migrations and data analysis more complex and inefficient. 

3. Scale to Reduce Uncertainty

Another point worth considering is team scaling. In terms of the post-Covid economy, many Travel companies are struggling to win customers' affection with fewer resources. It can be a hefty challenge, especially for companies that have experienced an outflow of professionals or do not have dedicated in-house IT teams to implement new solutions and projects. At the same time, an inability to ramp down a team quickly when it may be necessary could work against your business. That is where a flexible approach for staffing based on the professional assistance of an IT vendor can be useful.

Gartner's analysis of future work trends found that, in the transition from designing for efficiency to creating a team for resilience, 55% of organizational redesigns focused on role and workflow specification to increase efficiency. This approach resulted in reduced flexibility and an inability to react to disruptions in the market. Travel companies need to increase agility, not decrease dexterity, with vendors to become more flexible and responsive.

Criteria for Choosing an IT Vendor to Address the Industry’s Tech Talent Shortage

Let’s review the characteristics that can help you find your way around on the market and recover from the current employment crisis. Travel companies need to keep potential vendors in the loop and consider if the capabilities and expertise of an IT vendor match their essential criteria. Create a consolidated portrait of the vendor you plan to work with that displays all competences and resources of that vendor. Try to identify and discuss the following options with your potential vendor during the first meetings:

Flexibility in Operations

In a broad sense, flexibility across outsourcing areas means that a potential vendor likely works with different operational models, such as fixed price or time and material contracts. This lets you choose the most suitable and profitable business interaction formats. Flexibility from a geographical perspective means a vendor may implement a distributed team working model that ensures a fast reaction to market changes and tunes processes to the client's business needs. Additionally, an ability to involve engineers and managers from different geographic locations allows for budgeting flexibility. Moreover, due to the current IT talent shortage, the geographic distribution of a vendor can lead to a fast and efficient recruiting process.

Relevant Expertise

More businesses strive to automate repeating operations in the back- and mid-office. They also look to provide guests and customers in travel and hospitality with as many personalized and tailored solutions and services as possible. Relevant technical expertise with technologies fueled by automation and AI/ML, together with strong data protection and cybersecurity, are important for meeting standards today. These technologies ensure optimal implementation of in-demand services within the travel industry, including customer services and the elimination of physical touchpoints. A vendor with proven expertise must have many projects delivered and deep industry connections in the domain area. Check if your future vendor has industry-featured AI and ML-implemented projects in its portfolio, and how the projects benefitted the vendor’s clients.

Flexible Staffing

Companies in the recovery stage can benefit from a vendor that ensures rapid team expansion and reduction according to market challenges. This is where an IT vendor’s talent pool comes in handy. It is useful to clarify the level of expertise of the available resources, as well as if there are enough qualified engineers at the seniority level needed for the project. In addition, we recommend analyzing the vendor's recruitment capabilities, which influences the velocity of staffing. Check if the potential vendor has a decent pool of talent in requested technologies and if they are able to manage project delivery.

Proven and Tested Domain Knowledge

The vendor’s corporate and professional communication is the key in this case. When choosing a vendor, it is essential to pay attention to professional and industry-related content produced by this company and the variety of challenges they address. This includes case studies, white papers, blog posts, and industry-related events. Another infallible sign of extensive domain expertise is partnerships and industry connections in the travel industry. Determine if the vendor relies on industry experts or if thought leaders are tied to the company in some capacity.

Commitment to Quality

To understand what the industry peers think about the vendor, check its repeat client rate and browse the companies that have long-term business relationships with the vendor.

Culture, Expertise, and Technology: How DataArt Makes Things Work

We at DataArt believe that strong project management, combined with outstanding engineering talent, results in best-in-class services and delivery. The business landscape has become increasingly competitive, so an increased level of efficiency and quality is even more important than before.

We have domain-specific experience in the travel and hospitality industry and have created technology competence centers with expert-level professionals. This helps us implement proven solutions and individualized approaches to domain-related challenges.

DataArt can address issues quickly and efficiently because we provide complete coverage of cooperation models and services, from strategy consulting to product design and delivery. Here is how we work:

  • Our Elastic IT engagement model uses IT resources to expand/reduce teams, technology, and services quickly and efficiently.
22% of our employees have experience in the travel and hospitality domain, with 60% having a Senior+ level of qualification. This solid talent pool allows us to create effective teams.
  • We provide custom-built solutions for a comprehensive traveler experience, with more than 400+ implemented projects. We have experience with more than 300 APIs, with distribution and sourcing APIs serving as the basis of our competency.
  • Knowledge accumulation keeps specialists familiar with relevant technologies and facilitates onboarding.
Onboarding takes 4-6 weeks with DataArt, compared to 10 weeks with another vendor.
  • All our delivery offices are in cities with access to deep pools of engineering talent in Europe and the Americas. A rigorous recruitment process, which leads us to hiring just 0.8% of the candidates who apply, ensures that only the highest-quality professionals join our projects. This creates a unique ability to attract strong engineering talent to deliver complex solutions within agreed timelines and budgets. 
  • We take responsibility for quality and performance. We manage project delivery, which helps us ensure the consistency of our solutions and the services we provide. Our 95% repeat customer rate is the best proof of our success.
  • We provide standardized business processes with an ability to individualize operations for the client's needs.
  • We have more than 100 projects within the travel domain in our portfolio, as well as industry partnerships and memberships with Sabre, Amadeus, Travelport, OpenTravel, HFTP, HEDNA, HTNG, TTI, and HSMAI.

These characteristics allow businesses to decrease uncertainty, concentrate on their customers, and help businesses plan two steps ahead. Here is a simple formula for an ideal vendor that will help you make your initial choice: an ideal vendor is a technology partner that shares the same values plus operates required technology and provides high-quality resources, and all this supported by hundreds of successful projects. We use this combination to successfully engage with our partners and clients in the Travel and Hospitality industries. 

If you already know what service you want to implement next year but are short on resources, or you require additional domain expertise to allocate and prioritize future projects, drop us a line. We will happily provide you with qualified experts and sound solutions to help your business.

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