A seamless planning and booking tool continues to evade business travelers, but the challenges including privacy concerns, access to open data, and monopoly regulations will keep it at bay or at least dispersed across several travel products.
Open data is the key to our dream travel tool of the future.
A global travel database, forgetting privacy and security concerns, could aggregate the schedules and ticketing availability for transportation options worldwide and put them in a single place where a traveler could access, assess and select the best transit option in the weeks or minutes prior to a trip.
One of hundreds of travel products possible with greater access to such data is IPITA, an “integrated proactive intermodal travel assistant,” discussed in detail in a new report, Connected World: Hyperconnected Travel and Transportation in Action, produced by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with The Boston Consulting Group
The concept is a mobile tool that integrates planning, booking, and tickets across all modes of transportation. The system learns from user behavior, considers the users’ preferences, and incorporates real-time weather and traffic updates into its suggestions.
The ambitious model would have access to schedule and ticketing data not only for bus, plane and rail services around the world, but would also include data on bike-sharing and car-sharing services. The platform would interface will all mobile devices.
The scenario described in the video below (0:44 – 1:26) is one that most business travelers today would be thrilled to access.
There are, of course, many travel companies attempting to build or already executing on several parts of the model. These include Google, which currently offers the most services of any competitor, and startups like Rome2Rio that specialize in a certain component like end-to-end trip planning.
But a truly seamless travel planning tool would take collaboration from stakeholders including public authorities and transportation and service providers in order to set up regulations for protecting and sharing data, provide the obvious transit services, and manage data storage and transactions.
It’s this challenge that makes the ideal travel planning tool of the future just a dream today.
The report suggests launching such a platform at a major event like the Olympics or World Cup where the service could be tested at a smaller scale and then expanded to new companies and a broader geographic region. However, the lingering concerns around data transfer, especially payment and preferences, across data remain.
Section 3 of the following report delves deeper into the IPITA product, its possibilities and challenges.
Photo credit: A business traveler walks through Chicago O'Hare International Airport. Nick Harris / Flickr