Tech Talk: Why inbounders are embracing transformation in 2022

The last two years have seen new trends emerge amongst travellers, and a resurgence in international travel is expected this summer. In this Tech Talk column, Mate Kostovski, founder and CEO of Lemax, discusses the impact of new travel trends and the need for digital transformation for inbound tour operators.

The impact of the pandemic has accelerated the trend of online buying – something which traditionally was not particularly well represented in the organised travel sector. However, following the pandemic, consumers are increasingly valuing and expecting a positive experience from the moment they start browsing, and many are willing to spend more on the entire end-to-end experience than ever before. For businesses to stay competitive it is crucial to be able to respond with a suitable product, primarily online booking and a seamless, unique experience, and there’s no reason why the organised travel sector should not achieve this.


There’s no doubt that the travel industry has been on the precipice of significant changes during this turbulent period. Customer needs and expectations have changed dramatically – response time is expected to be considerably reduced, travellers are more experience-oriented and expect a vast and unique offer they can both find and book seamlessly online.

Many companies already had an online offering in place long before COVID, however with only a very small proportion of business being done via that channel. Dynamics have now changed. Online is faster, easier and more efficient. It forces you to be present and respond to enquiries immediately. Consequently, the competition is greater due to the nature of the market.

With the shift in trends and pervasive staffing shortages, there is high demand for modern tools and digital distribution. The B2C sector was forced to react first and fast; outbound companies had to close their stores and meet their customers online. The outbound market is becoming more dynamic and competitive, and the same will be expected from inbound. The companies that are quickest to respond are the ones that will get the customer. And without a prompt response from their suppliers, outbound companies will in turn lose their customers.

DMCs have a comprehensive understanding of their destinations and can offer unique products that are enriched by that knowledge, putting them at an advantage in attracting new partners. But what they also need is a solid online presence and good connectivity with their clients.

Inbound companies will need to evolve their business strategy by introducing B2B portals and migrating online. Without a fully connected supply chain and communication flow in place, it will be difficult to respond to client demands on time. Having a digitalised inventory will also mean fewer back-end staff, reduced errors, more advanced sales analytics and faster account reconciliation.


Before the pandemic, tourism was blossoming and the international travel industry was hitting new records each year. Tourism had generated a substantial percentage of total global employment and had established itself as one of the fundamental pillars for global economic growth. In 2019 the industry reached an unprecedented peak, making tourism one of the largest sectors in the world, and expectations were high for 2020. With the pandemic, everything changed. Most travel companies had to let go a good portion of their staff, many of whom went on to find jobs in different, more stable industries. On top of that, one of the biggest challenges for operators was unpredictability, which made it impossible for businesses to plan ahead.

Previously, tourism companies had been growing moderately, by a few percent each year. Then came the sharp decline in 2020 when international travel halted and companies were forced to reduce their staff. The recovery began in 2021 and further growth is expected in 2022. Although business levels are not expected to return to 2019 levels for some time, we expect that companies will achieve growth of more than 50% year-on-year, which is a rate that the industry has not yet encountered.

Over the next couple of years travel businesses will be busy catching up with previous revenue levels and are unlikely to be able to drive significant growth through expansion and hiring. Digitalisation therefore is an important solution to consider – on the one hand it can increase efficiency, reduce costs and increase profitability on the same income, on the other it will help operators open new business channels and grow their online sales. Online buying has become more popular than ever and I have no doubt that the trend is here to stay.

Lemax is a web-based travel software solution for tour operators and DMCs, helping travel businesses focus more on their customers and less on administration and processes. To find out more about digital transformation for your company visit or contact [email protected].