TravelTech Show turns 20 this year and a lot has happened in that time. We caught up with several industry leaders ahead of the show in June and asked them to predict the next big influences on the development of technology in travel in the next 20 years and how can buyers / operators best navigate new technology developments to ensure they are fit for purpose and getting the best ROI?
Nimet Sayeed, Event Manager, TravelTech Show
Looking back over the last 20 years the ‘Technology Hall of Fame’ is certainly diverse and well populated. It might be easy to take for granted the impact these advances have had, from Bluetooth in the early 2000s taking on mass market appeal for computers and mobile phones, to Skype elevating global communication capabilities when it launched in 2003. And who could forget the first touchscreen phone courtesy of Apple and the iPhone in 2007 and the seismic shift brought about by the introduction of social media, perhaps most notably Facebook in 2004, Twitter in 2006 and the relative baby of the social media family, Instagram now just a teenager since its launch in 2010.
Unquestionably, however, they have all laid the foundations for not just the new technology that is emerging now but also for the principles on which that technology is based. More specifically from a travel technology perspective, rapid, real-time communications and frictionless experiences that add value and efficiency and enhance the journey and experience, whether that be for a travel manager and/or traveller.
So where do we go from here? Predictions for what will influence the next 20 years and beyond of travel technology are always exciting and inspiring as the industry continues to innovate and inspire. Here some of the speakers and exhibitors at this year’s TravelTech Show share their thoughts on what will be the biggest influences on the development of technology in travel in the next 20 years and importantly, how operators can best navigate them in an ever-shifting landscape.
Iva Vodopija, Head of Sales & Marketing at LEMAX highlights, “The new generation of travellers is accustomed to the online world. They want to be able to buy travel products and services just as easily as they order Uber services or things from Amazon. They want to have all the relevant information related to their trip in one place, to be able to easily modify the offer and adapt it to their personal preferences, and to have fast and efficient communication with an experienced sales agent. Today’s travellers want a unique and tailor-made offer and to get the best possible value for their money.
“In order to support the demands of this new generation of travellers, travel agencies have to adapt the supply chain process to give out the best possible offer in the shortest time and ensure a unique customer experience throughout the entire customer journey.”
For many, meeting the demands of the next generation of traveller and defining the biggest influences on travel technology in the next 20 years comes in the shape of AI, Web 3.0 and ChatGPT. Indeed, Abby Penston, CEO of the Focus Travel Partnership sees all three as “game changers” which will “change how everyone experiences travel”, so much so that “it will improve the whole traveller booking experience, making it less fragmented and will potentially change the way we work forever.”
A sentiment echoed by Microsoft’s CTO of Aviation, Daniel Williams who says that alongside AI, virtual, augmented reality, blockchain and the Internet of Things (IoT) also all “have the potential to completely transform the travel industry in significant ways, from enhancing customer experiences to improving efficiency and streamlining operations.”
Managing data remains a core focus for all travel companies and as TripStax CEO Jack Ramsey points out, specifically for business travel data, there is scope for this to be decentralised with Web 3.0 and blockchain gaining prominence. Instead “data can be stored in multiple locations and AI will pull data from sources that are relevant to the user’s request at that moment.” Indeed, Ramsey suggests that “AI and decentralisation will change the whole dynamic of how our industry operates in the not-too-distant future.”
Knowing that these developments lie ahead, or in some cases are present and set to evolve, is one piece of the puzzle. How to navigate so many changes is another. Inspiretec’s Chief Revenue Officer Jon Pickles advises testing as the best way to build trust in ChatGPT in particular, “Come up with some test ideas and run with them to see what it brings. Like all new technologies don't go all in but certainly test the water. Try it inward facing first as you don't know yet what it might tell your customers. We need to build trust in the technology first.”
Focus Travel Partnership’s Abby Penston also outlines the importance of clarity, “It is important to understand what the technology can deliver and have a clear vision of how to utilise this in your business planning and then consider the right delivery mechanism to achieve this vision. With a choice of new and emerging tech such as dynamic data processing, cloud delivered services and AI there is a lot to consider.”
A consideration reiterated by Microsoft’s Daniel Williams who adds, when dealing with any new technologies it is essential to ensure they are fit for purpose and delivering a solid return. To achieve this travel companies “need to stay up to date with the latest technological developments and evaluate how they can be applied to their business. This could involve conducting research, attending industry events and conferences, and consulting with experts in the field.
“Ultimately, the key to successfully navigating new technology developments in travel will be to remain agile and adaptable. As new technologies emerge and evolve, buyers and operators will need to be prepared to pivot and adjust their strategies to ensure they are staying ahead of the curve and delivering value to customers.”
However the road ahead for travel technology is paved in the next 20 years it will undoubtedly present opportunities across the industry.
This year the TravelTech Show celebrates its 20th anniversary. Passes are free for anyone who buys travel technology. To find out more and register to attend please visit: traveltech-show.com