Travel Executive Crystal Balls Part 4: Ignacio Martos, Tim Russell and Bob Atkinson
To coincide with the mammoth Tnooz Predictions 2010 article, Tnooz asked people around the industry to gaze into their own crystal balls to forecast some of the key developments for the next 12 months.
- In 2009, with the crisis fully installed across Europe, we have experienced a continuous shift of customers from high street to the online world, this has been partially motivated by the desire of searching for best deals. I believe in 2010 this trend will stay, partially because this “saving mentality” will remain on the population and also because most of the clients that tried online find a good deal and come back as repeat customers.
- Entering into new worlds – The expansion of online sales will not only be based on current products and service offerings, but will mean an expansion on sales of sophisticated products such as Dynamic package and Tour Operator packages, the big tourist groups across Europe will help the move through heavily investing on their own online sales to the benefit of themselves and the rest of online community. As a result, when current long term leasing contracts expire on existing high street agencies, closing of some of them will be considered.
- Over the last year we have seen technology have a growing impact on the travel industry. The internet has empowered travellers, making them more confident to plan their travel arrangements without the help of travel experts and creating more informed travellers despite the continued demand for specific travel services. This new-found intelligence has in turn led to a growing appetite for online travel services that provide greater access to information and complex itineraries at a more competitive price; an appetite will undoubtedly grow throughout 2010. At Amadeus we see two clear areas of focus for technological advancement in 2010 – search and mobile.
- Search is far more advanced than ever before. Consumers are demanding more intuitive and intelligent technology that allows them to get more out of the information available in the shortest space of time. In line with this Amadeus recently launched Affinity Shopper – a new offering that transforms travel websites into a ‘traveller playground’, enabling users to explore and determine their trip based on what they would like to do. For example, travellers can search by budget available rather than having to know the country that they would like to visit. This new ‘Extreme Search’ concept is a key focus for Amadeus in 2010. It will also impact the wider travel industry as this technology drives website stickiness and helps airlines to maximise revenues by actually delivering what a shopper wants, rather than a list of lowest price fares based on restrictive search terms.
- It is not only the provision of information that will impact the travel industry next year; consumption patterns are changing with travellers requesting information in new and different ways. The internet and the growing proliferation of mobile web services have already had a significant impact. As consumers demand increasing access to information and ability to engage regardless of their location, the travel businesses must capitalise on this trend by offering new mobile applications and services, such as location-based recommendations and social networking tools.
- Going into 2010, people will search even more than before, using online and high street resources before they buy. The search portion of their booking will also encompass more usage of social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook in addition to review sites as people look for real time advice on travel. This demand for more relevant information will continue to grow through the year. Vouchers will become a huge source of travel leads as ‘voucher culture’ takes hold in the market place – influenced by the recession and the general shopping market.
- Travel companies will be even more careful with their marketing spend, finding the most efficient ways to drive relevant search into their websites. This will have an impact in focusing on content via SEO as opposed to SEM and above the line spending – with more and more company spend being driven into the creation of relevant customer content to maximise the Long Tail effect.
Kevin May is editor and a co-founder of Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution for nearly four years and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.
He has also worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology and a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism.