A recent report by the organisation Phocuswright gives an insight into the future of travel distribution. Phocuswright is a global travel market research company, which particularly focuses on and fosters smart strategic planning, tactical decision-making and organizational effectiveness by providing the answers to your most pressing travel-related issues. The Phocuswright report is entitled “The future of travel distribution: innovation and technology trends 2015”, and provides a fascinating and valuable insight into some of the most important trends in the travel industry going forward.
Travel Super Trends
As a central facet of this report, Phocuswright has identified several ‘super trends’ that will be particularly important to the travel industry in the coming years. The first of these is the development of sophisticated artificial intelligence and cognitive computing opportunities which will come from this. This development will assist in making smaller devices more useful.
One of the particular predicted implementations of this super trend Is that airlines and other travel companies will be able to utilise artificial intelligence in booking flights and other forms of travel automatically for customers. Details of these bookings could then be automatically sent to a customer’s mobile device.
Studies already indicate that it is possible for a relatively simple bots to successfully mimic human behaviour. Indeed, in a major study on bot behaviour, when people were tested to see if they could decipher the difference between a computer program and a human-being, nearly half of those surveyed were unable to do so. This indicates the rapid development of artificial intelligence in a contemporary computing.
Another super trend predicted by the report is related to collaborative consumption. Technology such as mobile devices and social networking platforms have rapidly transformed the technological landscape, particularly when used in conjunction with online payment systems such as PayPal, and the new wave of mobile payment systems led by Apple Pay.
This is already strongly reflected in travel today, with almost every aspect of the travel experience already having a mobile app of its own. But what can be said in mitigation with regard to this trend is that content is often fragmented by this reality. This makes it difficult for people to shop, and awkward to access all of the goods and services that consumers desire.
Additionally, there are a wide variety of travel challenges today which this second super trend can help to address. Most of these are related to logistics, with long lines and delays at airports a particular bugbear. Delayed and cancelled flights are very much part of this process, with consumers often complaining about hotel expectations not being met as well.
Once consumers arrive in a particular location, ground transportation choices and costs are becoming a serious issue, one that the recent taxi mobile application Uber Is particularly tapping into. There are also issues related to accessing local knowledge, with an authentic travel experience becoming increasingly important to large numbers of travellers. Related to this is being able to communicate valid and accurate information regarding what people should see and do when participating in a particular trip.
The report also points out that utilising online functions can actually be hazardous for companies if they are not aware of the risks related to this. The report suggests that nefarious scrapers can in fact feed off travel content, with competitors and illegitimate, fraudulent individuals looking to acquire inappropriate information.
Both competitors and upstarts have used online bots to aggressively scrape websites, run searches, execute third-party API calls into a wide variety of very prominent websites, cause brownouts and blackouts, and ultimately harm Google quality score and SEO efficacy.
Ultimately, it is essential to protect your content from nefarious web scrapers. These can copy large amounts of data from a website either manually, or more commonly with an automated software program.
Scrapers can post your content on competitor sites, undermine your prices, and execute searches on your site. This can undermine your SEO rating, cause problems with pricing and listings, and ensure that third parties can undercut you. It is something that should be guarded against.
Seamless Travel Experiences
A third super trend recognised by the report is the challenge of building seamless travel experiences in a culture in which content is very much king. Personalising the travel experience before departure, during flights, and in transit after landing is becoming essential to both attracting and satisfying customers.
Effectively, technology should make travelling much easier, and the wide variety of different technology platforms available today make achieving this a much more flexible experience. A good example of recent technology being utilised effectively is Sabre’s TripCase, which is already popular on the new smartwatch, the Apple Watch.
An example of a disruptive technology which has emerged recently in this area is the Cicret Bracelet. The Cicret Bracelet projects a screen on to the arm of consumers, so that it is possible for them to carry out typical mobile functions and features. Google Glass also has potential, and it is something that the Digital Tourism Think Tank has reported on previously, although it should be noted that this has not been a commercially successful technology as of yet.
Increasingly, technology related to the travel industry will be focused on convenient experiences. Location-based content which provides a wide variety of different services all delivered to one mobile platform will become increasingly important.
Communicating to mobile devices in a sophisticated way will become equally vital for travel-related companies, and thus technology such as beacons will serve an extremely valid purpose. Already iBeacon is one prominent example of this technology, and this is a disruptive development which promises to have particularly strong marketing potential.
The development and popularisation of the Internet of Things will also have an impact on the demands of consumers. Increasingly, people will be able to control several strata of their lives via mobile devices, a concept which was unimaginable previously, and this will lead to a more demanding customer base which expects integrated services from travel-related companies.
In conclusion, staying abreast of the latest travel trends is essential for any travel company, and the Phocuswright report certainly provides a great deal of food for thought.
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