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Posts tagged ‘Travel Technology’

The World of Travel Technology is changing.

November 9, 2014

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Its subtle but its there.

Mobile not Social
Ground not Air
Packaging stays true to its routes

The world of Travel Technology is part now of shifting sands as the universe changes (consumers are changing) then also the service model needs to change. At WTM (World Travel Mart) this year I really felt that the world is moving away from its traditional roots. In my view that is a good thing. Consumer facing technologies are great but the Supply Chain access and management remains stuck in the 1960s legacy platforms.

I like to wander at Trade shows. I of course spend the time looking intently at what people are offering in the sectors “du jour” and in the bits that I am personally interested in. Having done the Trade show walk for many years – what used to be somewhat chaotic is now a delicate dance and balance. Where I get quite a lot of inspiration is in listening to the questions that real punters – er I mean customers – are asking vendors for.. In truth I have become blasé about the wiles of the Steppes or the pebbled beaches of the Northern Med but the technology that powers consumers options both on the supply side and the demand side fascinates me. For much of my professional career in the Travel Industry – I have to say that much of what happens is actually a lot of smoke and mirrors. Complicated solutions built on fragile legacy technologies that in today’s real time economy really look archaic.

For technology I like to understand what is the shift. Not what the spin doctors are saying but what the users of tech are finding from their customers. In my somewhat jaded perspective I sense that much of the technology never gets used. So listening is very important. And what users are asking for is interesting? Yup you bet.

However while we are seeing some good stuff occurring in what the providers are focused on – sadly I still see that the Travel Industry sees itself as somehow uniquely wonderful and special. IE they don’t believe that the rest of the world is in that special place that Travel has occupied for decades and will continue to do so. How wrong can they be?

The latest set of startups I have seen are showing themselves as being far better designed and better suited for today’s consumer. However the bottleneck remains in the access to the supply chain. What we need is a better set of tools there. The days of an evolutionary approach I think are nearing the end and we are about to see some revolutionary changes. I hasten to add that this is not being driven from within the industry but from the periphery and definitely from the likes of the Big 4 Ecommerce players – Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon.

Stay tuned folks this is going to be quite a ride.

If you are a traditional player – get your finger out and start rethinking your platforms.
If you are a new entrant or just interested in the category. Be careful where and how you source your data.

Cheers

2013 The Year of Transition – Part 1 of Year End Review

December 28, 2013

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2013 has seen some clear indications that we are reaching a level of maturity in many parts of the Travel Startup ecosystem.

For startups things are humming along nicely. The world of the sharing economy seems to have pushed new life into the moribund world of truly different and innovative. Many people are taking a run at  Tours and Activities again. And of course inspiration and planning seem to have been on a lot of people’s minds. And what is my take on this state.

In my view 3 things defined 2012:

  • The blockbuster acquisition of Kayak announced
  • The settlement of the Sabre vs AA lawsuit
  • The launch of NDC

For 2013 – there was not as much going on. We had no real blockbuster events. Yes there was still a fair old amount of money pouring into the world of startup and innovation. Not a lot of it smart. I was singularly unimpressed with the crop at PCW’s First Philip-less Innovation Summit. (I suspect I am not alone there).

Hopper finally launched and I am rather unimpressed. This could be so much better. I think much of the world has moved on. In my view – Social Sign-ins should be OPTIONAL not compulsory. This really annoys me?

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I don’t want to give Hopper or ANYONE ELSE my friend list. It is not my right to share other people’s data. Nor should it be anyone else’s. I am also getting tired of the minimalist interface that already frustrates me. I think I am REALLY tired of seeing a one box entry with a pretty background. 

Let’s get into the sharing economy – actually let’s not. AirBnB is an amazing phenomena it has unleashed a way for the consumer to search shop and buy a stay that is reasonable and affordable. It is also illegal in most cases and multiple instances in the same transaction. However that illegality is not stopping the consumer. I just hope someone asks me to right the Risk statement in their IPO document. Sometime in 2014 AirBnB will likely be the source of the most room nights booked by a single brand. I firmly believe that AirBnB must be held accountable for the actions of its efforts. So far few people are considering the impact of the macro economic change that AirBnB is bringing to both short term and long rental accommodation markets.

So my final note is on the consolidation of power across the board in the travel supply chain.

Cars and Airlines have now migrated into a scarce supply. I have watched as the supply of the traditional (aka legacy) airline product supply has slowly concentrated. And boy has it concentrated. In the USA we have gone from large number of players to just – 4 yes FOUR AIRLINES. And for car rental that has now come down to a much smaller number. Hertz, Avis, Enterprise. Pretty much that’s it.

There is now a new reality – the days of neutrality are dead. We are dealing with the Dealership model and we need to get used to it. The consumer has less choice than perhaps he has had to deal with in a very long time.

In conclusion – i believe that the “old” new economy is fading and we are facing a more stable and somewhat boring world. 2013 has been a maturing of what we saw as the brave new world. The year of transition from the hyper-euphoria to more mundane things belies the need to fix a large number of under the covers infrastructure changes. (More on that in my follow up article for 2014).

As a postscript for 2013 – perhaps as a tantalizing look at how we can imagine the future – check out these new UX possibilities here:

http://www.fastcodesign.com/3023146/the-17-most-amazing-user-interfaces-of-the-year#1

 

Thanks for reading and here’s to a great 2014.  Lunar year 2013 was the year of the Snake. As one – I welcomed the year with a bit of trepidation as it marked a major milestone in my life. Now I have had the chance to reflect – it wasn’t too bad. I wish all the best for your loved ones. May you find the true path and of course may peace come to all of us!Image

“The Buzz Is Palpable” but perhaps not for much longer Part 1 Innovation Summit.

November 19, 2012

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The annual shindig that is the PhocusWright conference produced a bumper crop of new innovators vying for a spot in the sun. Interestingly the number of successful players who have graduated from TIS – Travel Innovation Summit – may not be that great. It is about par for the course of startups who succeed (not great either). However the categories are important to understand the likely success or failure. To say that Amadeus is a success is like saying Hostess is a failure. But they won in several categories over the past few years.

So what of the innovators? Go to http://www.phocuswright.com and then you can see these. But registration is required. I hope you signed up for the streams before hand. I have eliminated from review people who have been here before (e.g. Ostrovok).

So who do I think were winners?

Here are my picks and the likely exit.

I liked WeHostels (with apologies to VP for whom I initially said I didn’t like the idea). I am warming to it but not fully there yet. Exit is likely to be Priceline.

Triometric – REALLY great – a true data geek business that probably wont need to see the light of day again in public and will probably get acquired by IBM.

Tagman – I think its overrated. Organizing Tags is good but there are no standards and as long as Google keeps moving the goalposts then it will be hard. However this is a reasonable chance for success with exit being sold to Microsoft who desperately need a foot in this door.

TourWrist. I cant think why – but well Joel Cutler is investing so follow the smart money I suppose. Exist? Probably Google.

Deal Angel an OTA masquerading as a Deal site. The stuff under the covers is worth more than the site itself. Should be acquired for its technology not the consumer business. Thanks Groupon for messing up this market.

Rome2Rio – as I put in my prior post – I love maps. So where will this end up? I will go out on a limb and say that Amazon could really use this as a way to power many businesses. Alternatively if a GDS was really smart they would use this as a springboard. Nah… never happen.

And that is it. None of the others were complete enough. Some fundamental issues with each of them. Honorable mention may go to Maptia – love the idea (Maps again) but the execution as incomplete and needs a lot more work/effort. Amadeus and Concur get excluded for being too big. OpenBooking is nice but the model is based on screwing someone else’s model. Always find that hard to accept.

Anyway – enjoy it. Let me know what you think
Cheers
Timothy

And the winner is…. Result from the PhocusWright Innovation Sessions

November 19, 2012

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The Rome2Rio team at PhocusWright – with just a little amount of help from TOD. A well deserved win for a great concept and team

This year’s people’s choice award at PhocusWright Travel Innovation Summit 2012 was Rome2Rio.

I have been a long lover of maps and GIS – Geographical Information Systems – as a way to make travel easier and more relevant. The Rome2Rio team seem to have cracked it. A super clean algorithm set and a fast response time. Not an overnight success but a sure footed solution to a big problem.

Congrats to Michael and Rod. Well deserved win. A fundamentally great idea well executed. Suffice to say as I noted in my tweet during the conference – if you have not checked them out or signed up for API – then you are going to face a steep hill in the coming years.

Cheers

Timothy