With 2009 in full swing, travel industry researcher, PhoCusWright, takes a fresh look at the technologies and innovations that have the potential to drive change in the travel, tourism and hospitality in its annual publication, PhoCusWright's 2009 Technology Trend Predictions.
Bob Offutt, senior technology analyst and editorial director, technology edition, explains, "Innovation is at the very heart of the travel industry -- from the beginnings of air travel and global hotel brands to GDSs and OTAs. These ten technology trends will reshape the way consumers search shop and buy travel."
PhoCusWright's 2009 Technology Trends
- Despite market woes, pockets of investment still exist
"During economic downturns, innovation is the single most important condition for transforming the crisis into an opportunity." (Sami Mahroum, research director of Britain's National Endowment for Science, Technology & the Arts and a visiting reader at the School of Management, Birkbeck College, University of London).
- The entire trip experience will be "informationized"
In the past, the main focus of the travel value chain has been those components that resulted in a booking. Access to further information was a challenge because of limitations of mobile devices, lack of acceptable technology in hotel rooms, language barriers and no clear business model. This is all about to change.
- Software as a service (SaaS), cloud computing and open source spawn a new flock of innovators
Open Source has matured to the point that many companies are fully dependent on it. It has become an enabler for startups, allowing them to rapidly accelerate their time to market. At the PhoCusWright's November 2008 Travel Innovation Summit, demonstrator Home and Abroad explained that they would not have been able to bring their product to market if it had not been for Open Source.
- Suppliers provide personalized shopping/booking tools
Today, most OTAs look much the same: Where do you want to go? When? Air only or hotel and/or car? To provide convenience and value to the customer, future learning and shopping screens will adapt to the users' stated profiles, observed profiles and shopping style. Similarly, the content presented will be the most meaningful to the customer.
- Technologies will continue to converge
Ten years ago, television networks were distinct from the Internet. Video was limited to TV and you went to see a movie at the theater. Now you can make a phone call anywhere to anywhere in the world using your laptop. You can watch movies and TV and browse rich content on your mobile device. You can watch content from the Internet on your TV and wirelessly network your house for all manner of content.
- New mobile travel and location-based applications
Mobile usage in travel applications has languished for years with a poor technology capability and an even worse business model. The mobile platform finally has interactive capability that makes it the fully functioning "3rd screen" alongside the desktop and laptop. With the growth of 3G (broadband wireless) subscriptions and smartphone adoption, apps will embrace location and context in a new way, enhancing the travel experience.
- Advertising technology
Pure play booking fee models will become dinosaurs as blended models involving highly targeted ads, referral fees and fees for service establish peaceful coexistence. The technology convergence discussed in Trend 5 will enable the convergence of business models.
- Still searching...for better search
Last year the trends were "Semantic Technology and the Semantic Web will drive the next wave of Internet technology" and "Search will evolve to become more effective." These are still true. Lack of adoption of the formal semantic Web does not mean that search is not getting better. There are several instances where semantics are being used to improve search. As they begin to show differentiated business value over normal search, they will gain traction.
- Democratization of supply levels the playing field
In the beginning when the airlines created travel distribution, the GDSs (they were called CRSs then) controlled the distribution of travel content. This created an oligopoly. But times are changing. The implementation of standards for interconnection, the transparency of the Internet, Web services and mashups, new search tools and SaaS models have all contributed to the development of an open marketplace for travel distribution.
- Business intelligence and analytics move to the forefront
In tight times, you need to squeeze as much as possible from your existing operations and capabilities. This involves understanding what your competitors are doing, how efficient and effective your own operations are and what your customers are saying.