Just before Thanksgiving, we attended The PhoCusWright Conference for travel industry professionals which Travel & Leisure magazine calls the "epicenter of travel technology". We were impressed by the highly informative and thought-provoking presentations - here are a few of our favorite takeaways and glimpses of innovations that could be helping us all travel smarter in the very near future.
1. The future of advertising is here. Real-time targeted travel ads are becoming a reality with Sociomatic's Streaming CRM for Travel. Using the power of Big Data, Sociomatic presents travelers with targeted offers based on customer and revenue management data - discount for seat on a recently searched flight, hotel rooms in a frequently visited city, rental cars and upgrades for those who might be interested - at the time and place they need it: online, via mobile, and on Facebook. Sociomatic personalizes and facilitates the travel experience while making sure travel suppliers don't get stuck with excess inventory.
2. New technologies are arising for improving hotel logistics. Companies like Checkmate and Ve-Go are making mobile check-in and check-out a breeze. They do the legwork with the hotel to obtain a room matching an individual traveler's set preferences and arrival time, and even pre-print keycards at partner hotels. Groupize lets small group planners research hotels, book rooms, manage payment, and share hotel details for groups of travelers all online without the tedious back and forth with hotel sales staff.
3. Take-along trip planning gives travelers more control. Enabling the 'Perfect Trip' is not just a matter of helping plan the ideal trip, but also providing personalized, location-based, information on the day-of-travel and while in-trip on mobile devices (including wearables!). KDS is knocking it out of the park for business travelers, offering a corporate travel booking and expense management service (that's available across all devices), letting travelers actually see an interactive trip timeline while they manipulate their itineraries and route maps.
4. Travelers remain planning site agnostic. Although online planning sites have been developing better and better web and mobile experiences, no one has solved the loyalty challenge associated with trip planning. Travelers still bounce around to different sites, on average checking 22 sites according to IATA, looking for the best option prior to booking, and will book on whichever one has the best offer.
5. Personalized, curated travel experiences. While management and booking of destination travel activities & tours is an incredibly fragmented industry, those tackling it appear to be getting more traction. Knowing where to start online trip researching and planning can be overwhelming since there's just so much information out there, and travelers have a limited time to explore their chosen destinations. Peek wants to become the first stop in planning daily activities by offering personalized "Perfect Days" - daily itineraries curated by both celebrities and the Peek user community. The vendors providing the travel activities are pre-selected, so travelers feel more secure they'll have a great customer service experience.
While all travelers can benefit from the innovations we saw at PhoCusWright, the trends outlined here clearly point to the millennial traveler - tech-savvy early adopters that are always connected, rely heavily on online reviews, and prefer self-service. Analysts predict millennials will make up the majority of travel spend in the next 5-10 years, but their unique approach to travel is already shaping the market today.