Travel and the fourth industrial revolution
Interesting positioning by Sabre in recent weeks as it looks to face what it calls the “fourth industrial revolution” and how the travel industry will tackle it.
This move to an entirely new economy, social structure and consumer (and, of course, traveller) connectivity is set to overhaul how suppliers, intermediaries and technology services operate – that much most people and companies are beginning to understand.
In travel, this has been driven, in part, by an ongoing liberalisation of the movement of people but also how they want to feel in control of their consumer experience.
People are being wooed by the Internet Of Things (Internet Of Everything, in fact), by their ability to be providers in their own right (Airbnb and Uber et al are perfect examples), and by having access to every piece of information that they need to make an informed choice about where they go and how they experience it.
And with technology comes automation (bots) and personalisation (DIY travel and unbundling of services based on requirements and preferences).
With that in mind, Wade Jones, Sabre Travel Network’s interim president, recently outlined a vision of sorts as to how the industry should consider this shift from what some (but not Jones) might call Travel 2.0 to Travel 3.0… and beyond.
Speaking at the Business Travel Show in London in February, Jones argues that a series of changes are likely to impact on every area of the industry when it comes to the consumer-intermediary relationship.
Shopping – the traveller
“I’m inspired by places I see on Instagram and use different travel websites to find the best itinerary and fare. But no one can tell I’m adding a leisure leg to my business trip – why can’t this be seamless?”
“VR inspires me and links directly to Alexa, which finds the best travel option and tells me when to book. If I head online, websites know I’m a bleisure traveller and automatically adjusts to my preferences. It’s so easy.”
Booking – the agent
“Our agents use a mix of green screen & graphical, and still need to touch every booking. There’s some automation, but ancillaries, hotel commissions, payments and ADMs are still a nightmare.”
“We use a mobile, graphical solution that responds to gestures and touch. Chatbots manage simple activities and there’s just one social media “power app” that integrates travel shopping, booking and payments. Completely seamless.”
Airport – the traveller
“I use mobile or web check-in but the bag counter and overall airport experience is still long and troublesome. Sometimes I struggle to find directions for the lounge and gate. Why is it not more automated?”
“I’m checked-in automatically when I enter the airport and auto-rebooked if I don’t make it. Robots and 3D maps guide me to my personalised boarding time so I never have to wait, and I always know where my luggage is.”
Retail – the traveller
“I shop at airport stores and sometimes airline duty-free. At some airports, I receive special offers on my mobile for cafes in my vicinity. Nice, but I don’t drink coffee and would prefer a shopping offer.”
“The whole airport is one inspiring retail space. I can buy anything, anytime and it’s delivered. I also receive personalized offers – swipe right on mobile and delivered to home. Airlines know what and when to serve my meal based on what I eat at the airport. Shopping has never been so easy!”
Air travel – the airline
“We’re starting to offer valuebased personalized offers, but it’s still mostly about seats and bags. There’s also still a lack of technology options on-board aircraft. It’s still very much ‘techoff’ on board.”
“It’s a tech-first experience for passengers – BYOD, with dynamic retailing, food and beverage that’s completely customized for each passenger. We no longer over-cater.”
Transport – the traveller
“My company gives me some transport options on mobile, or I organize a hire car. I hate driving on the other side of the road!”
“My driverless car picks me up with my hotel pre-programmed. I’m prompted to complete hotel check-in information.”
In trip – the traveller
“I ask a concierge or look online for things to do, places to eat and visit. There’s no easy way of knowing if my colleagues are at the same hotel or in town.”
“I receive proactive recommendations and offers based on what I like, and alerts when colleagues or business associates are in the area. It makes networking and doing business much easier.”
Kevin is senior editor and a co-founder at Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.
He has worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology, a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism and publishes his first book - a biography about Depeche Mode - in early-2017.