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5 online travel predictions to kick off the first week of 2015 and a chance to WIN!
Predictions are notoriously difficult to get right but with the help of a few experts Mariam Sharp has a bash
British computer programmer Alan Cox once said: “I figure lots of predictions is best. People will forget the ones I get wrong and marvel over the rest.”
On that note, here is the first in a series of three articles that will make five predictions for 2015. Send us yours and the best stands to win a free EyeforTravel conference pass in 2015.
1. Big data predictive technology will become common place
Many large travel websites now have multiple ways to give recommendations to their users. Email campaigns or on-site recommendations, for example, are increasingly used to make suggestions for a new destination. This engagement is increasingly data-driven; the parameters emerge from relevant past behavioural patterns of users in the form of ‘recommender’ algorithms. By processing the digital footprints left behind by users online it’s now possible to build statistical models able to predict human behaviour with surprising accuracy. As Chris Brogan, SVP Strategy & Analytics for Hyatt Hotels & Resorts points out big data and predictive modeling can put scarce resources to use more effectively. “It’s about ‘mashing together’ customer satisfaction data with loyalty data and the graphical data from mapping programmes with data from financial systems and the profit and loss accounts and tying this together over time to establish what each individual guest wants and what they are prepared to pay for.”
With digital marketing budgets rising, the ability to deploy these resources efficiently and effectively is becoming ever more important. The ‘recommender’ algorithms become more accurate as more data is available each year, which is why we are going to see more of this activity in 2015.
2. Segmentation in 2015 will be the key to delivering personal and relevant products
The problem with big data is that - well - it is just too big. At the heart of really using and understanding big data is segmentation. Through segmentation, personalisation and relevancy will become more and more critical within many businesses. That said, there are still many travel brands that are not yet focused on this very fast changing environment, and will face increasing pressure. So 2015 is likely to be a year of testing for such brands as they are already on borrowed time. As Carlos Sánchez, Carlson Wagonlit’s Travel’s senior manager said recently: “Data & analytics devices will become extensions of the self, and people will come to expect customised, personally tailored offerings and services.”
3. Internet of Things – it’s no longer a ‘thing’ of the future
The Internet of Things – in other words, a world where objects, animals or people are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network is estimated to grow to 26 billion units by 2020. That, according to Gartner, represents an almost 30-fold increase from 0.9 billion in 2009. In the world of travel there are already examples of technology changing processes - from the Apple Watch due in Spring 2015 through to developments across airports.
Around 18 months ago, London City Airport, with a grant from the UK’s Technology Strategy Board, started to test cross-technology networking. This means that security lines could communicate with each other, and then give travellers’ devices updates on waiting times. Pilots could know the moment their customers are making the way through the terminal. Food and beverage outlets could offer pre-orders for customers, and automatically begin preparing food as the customer clears security. The airport reports that the hi-tech project is starting to improve how passengers move around the terminal, and their ability to interact with the airport and communicate with the outside world.
4. Security issues will remain centre stage
Of course, the use of data can be a double-edged sword; as there is an increase in data and cross-technology working and personalisation the need to increase data security and anti-fraud protection will also rise. In 2014 the Edward Snowden revelations of privacy invasion by governments led to continued demands for more privacy. In the world of travel, Uber has come under the media spotlight with calls from a US Senator to respond to questions over privacy. The recent hacking of international businesses such as Sony International during 2014 also threw the issue into sharp relief. So in 2015 it’s likely that there will be more international co-operation and regulation.
5. Big players to redraw the travel landscape
With global travel sales expected $830 million in 2017, it’s an industry nobody can ignore as Amazon’s recent market entry into hotel booking shows. Whether that can tests Priceline's global dominance is anybody’s guess but the next twelve months are certain to redefine travel once again. Big questions include: what will happen to the big OTA’s and how they relate to Google and metasearch? As metasearch shifts towards easier booking, the relationship is blurring between metasearch and OTA’s - how will that play out during 2015? We’re also likely to see other big players such as Facebook and Twitter turning more towards travel as part of their growth strategies. It is also worth remembering that Apple has a multitude of travel patents also. So watch this space.
Don’t forget to post or tweet us your predictions for 2015 for the chance to WIN a free EyeforTravel conference pass.