To kickstart the new year, Skift and Amadeus hosted a live Twitter Chat to find out What Matters in Travel Technology in 2016.
We posed nine questions at #AmadeusChat about the future of travel technology. Here are the highlights:
Q1: What top tech challenges do you plan to overcome in 2016?
Collectively, many participants reported a continued focus on creating better cross-platform experiences and integrating data across channels. We know that mobile is now a trend, and experiences need to be platform agnostic. The true challenge remains how to get there. Additionally, integrating virtual reality and artificial intelligence into travel experiences will likely become a more concrete focus.
Q2: Have business and leisure traveler tech grown closer together or further apart over the past year?
Increased use of the term “bleisure” shows that many chatters already believe the line is blurred and continues to overlap. Technology may be slowing this transition, and needs to adapt to meet the needs of both segments more seamlessly. Loyalty programs and Uber for business are leading the way for better integration. “Consumerization is critical for corporate travel. We want the personal, warm experience in leisure brought to corp,” said @JayBRichmond.
Q3: Which site has the best travel booking experience?
“The sites that know their target audience and what they are looking for … the answer varies for each travel vertical,” said @AlixArguelles. Not surprisingly, many big players’ names were mentioned, i.e. @Expedia, @priceline, @booking.com and @KAYAK. Respondents said users are very focused on the experience, and sites that offer good personalization, depth of product, ease of use, and great customer service will always remain at the top of the lists.
Q4: Which travel technologies have run their course, and which are ready to break new ground?
Being platform agnostic was the clear leader in this category. Anything desktop-focused has run its course, along with generic search. Travel companies certainly can’t ignore the future power of virtual reality and biometrics, particularly used for security, as well as virtual concierges and messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, which will surely be a game changer.
Q5: If you had $100K to invest in a travel startup, which would you fund?
While many individual startups raised their hand at this question, an overall theme emerged about improving the use of data and making travelers’ end-to-end experiences more integrated. Travelers, it seems, are seeking more travel agent-like experiences via apps.
Q6: Would you welcome travel suggestions proposed to you based on your social media activities/behavior?
Most users seem to crave more personalized experiences, and would welcome recommendations based on their social activity, assuming those proposals are truly based on their behavior patterns – not just a single action. However, some users are still reluctant to have their social activities mined and prefer to consult with friends. (Take note, though, that data mining is actually happening now; you just may not realize it!)
Q7: What’s your “must-have” app when traveling to a new destination and why?
Q8: How can the travel industry leverage the capabilities of the Internet of Things (#IoT) to make travel more seamless?
We live in a connected world that will continue to evolve at lightning speed. Travelers seem to be craving better connected experiences at the airport, and with their luggage and hotel rooms. Said @SilverRailTech,“We’d like to see improved links to personal devices on the road (i.e. we really want to stream Netflix on hotel TV. Personalize door-to-door travel: location, weather, delay information, auto-adjust travel, etc.)”
Amadeus’ Jessica Labaire chimed in, stating that being recognized at the airport is key. “I want the airport to know when I arrive. No check-in, no TSA. Just know my phone/watch is there and make magic happen,” said Labaire.
Q9: What does personalization mean to you?
Turns out, personalization is, well … personal. Travelers seem to want different things, but the good news is, most of us really want it – and want companies to get it right. Adding the human touch to technology is critical. While we agree Big Brother is watching, we may not want it to be so obvious.
“Send us deals that are relevant” – everyone seemed to agree on this one. And although the industry has been touting “relevant offers,” “personalization” and “Big Data” for years now, most of the chatters believe it’s still not been solved.
Travelers want to be known, whether in a search result or upon arrival; it’s not just about receiving the right offer at the right time via the right device (although that is indisputably the most important piece). Personalization is about little details and paying attention. “Personalization means not having to reintroduce yourself all the time,” said @AmTravTed.
So what truly matters?
In summary, what matters in travel technology in 2016 is interestingly similar to what mattered in 2015.
- The evolution of personalization and use of data continues.
- Virtual reality and artificial intelligence is gaining steam.
- Desktop as a priority is so yesterday.
- Connected, end-to-end travel experiences still need some work.
Users want to be known, recognized and assisted now more than ever, and travel companies must pay closer attention to customer preferences. Why? Because “[we really want you to know] that it’s shaken, not stirred,” said @TechieTravel. A perfect wrap!
To continue the conversation, search #AmadeusChat on Twitter – and look for more Twitter discussions brought to you by Amadeus in the coming year!
A version of this article originally appeared on Amadeus.com.