System changes ‘need more than lipstick on front’

Changing the consumer-facing front end of technology systems can be like applying “lipstick” to a legacy system if the back end is unchanged.

That is according to Thomas Cook chief digital and marketing officer Jo Migom (pictured) who told a Travolution Business Breakfast: “Just changing the front end doesn’t help if there is no connection with the entire user experience. It can look pretty, but it’s like [applying] lipstick.”

Migom likened modernising the technology at the old Thomas Cook to trying to change the course of a supertanker. She argued transforming the user experience requires investment in legacy back‑end systems, not simply design at the front end.

The panel agreed travel firms have become averse to the risk of undertaking the large technology projects required to rid companies of legacy systems, but a lot can be done on the front-end to improve customer experience.

Will Plummer, chief executive of travel financial services provider Trust My Group, argued: “We want [a great] customer experience on the front end, but if that puts pressure on the back end, I’m not sure building on a legacy system is the goal.”

Nisha Botevyle, Sabre UK and Ireland director, said: “Our role is to provide you with technology to give your customers an experience so they stay with you.”

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