I was chairing Travel Distribution Summit Europe 2014 the week before last. Over the two days, we covered a lot of very topical topics such as OTAs vs direct reservations, metasearch, mobile, social media and more. It was a very good conference with a high calibre of speakers from many different sectors of travel. However, it left me thinking that there is one area of travel that technology has yet to tackle well.
Nucleus, the brand, digital and intellectual property consultancy has been regularly surveying its clients since 2011, tracking the growth in mobile web browsing. The company’s latest survey highlights the continued move towards a mobile-first user experience. Mobile traffic has been growing at 42% year on year.
I have been running technology seminars at World Travel Market for nearly 20 years. This year WTM will be celebrating its 35th event, so I thought it might be interesting to write a retrospective on how the technology exhibited at WTM has changed over the decades. I still have the PowerPoint presentation from the first WTM seminar I gave in 1995.
This is a tale about the storyfication of travel. Once upon a time there was an industry called Travel. It sold holidays to People. People were happy. Travel would tell People the facts about their holidays and then they would buy them. The facts were very useful in helping People choose the holiday that suited them best.
2014 is set to be the year of the tablet. These user friendly devices are expected to make the long-expected jump to global acceptance. Recent figures show that 47.6 million units shipped around the world in Q3 2013. According to a new report from Gartner, over 260 million tablets will be shipped in 2014.
The world economy is projected to be about 80% larger in 2020 than it was in 2000. World total population will increase from 7 to 8.3 billion people in 2030. Asia, Africa, and Latin America will account for virtually all population growth over the next 20 years. The middle class is expected to reach 5 billion people by 2031, up from 2.1 billion people in 2011. The world is changing. At the Summit, Richard Lewis, CEO Best Western Hotels, distinguished between Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives.
I organised September’s Travel Technology Initiative conference. It was called Intermediary Futures and was all about what the next few years hold for travel industry players such as tour operators, online and high street travel agents, bedbanks, etc. You can download some of the speakers’ presentations from this page. Intermediaries are middle-men.
I have a confession to make. In 1999, I gave a conference presentation where I foretold the demise of high street retail within 25 years. Here is what I said: “In 2024, consumers buy information products exclusively on-line. When they buy travel, an information product at the point of sale, they do not dream of leaving the home or office to walk into high street retail premises that cannot even physically demonstrate the product, let alone provide any more information than they can access on their net appliances. They look back to the last few years of the Second Millennium and realise that this was the period when the On-Line Era began. They realise that travel, more than any other industry, contributed to a new way of life. They know that, during that exciting period of change, the travel industry showed the world that electronic distribution is the preferred way of retailing.”
Large travel companies that can afford to develop sophisticated technology and continually test and hone their websites. Small, specialist travel companies that work hard to build a reputation as being experts in their own product area.
How extensive does a news item need to be to seriously dampen or kill inbound tourism? A tsunami may or may not affect a whole coast line, bush fires might be limited to a few areas, riots may only be breaking out in the capital city? On the news, though, it may look like a whole country is in trouble.