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Skift Take

Internet of Things technology is rapidly moving from a dream to practical reality for many brands in the travel industry. But the organizations that are using it tend to have massive scale and deep pockets.

— Jeremy Kressman

This week, we’re taking a closer look at travel brand spending on the Internet of Things.

Once viewed as a pie-in-the-sky idea with few practical applications, the last two to three years have seen rapid adoption of Internet of Things technology across both customer-facing and back-end enterprise sectors of the travel industry. Airlines and airports have been quick adopters, using the technology to track passengers in terminals and monitor maintenance of jet engines. So have theme parks and hotels, which use such tools for everything from monitoring guest traffic flows, to providing personalized content and keyless room entry.

How much did travel businesses spend on Internet of Things programs in 2015? And will many smaller brands be able to afford it? Read on below for more details, plus the rest of this week’s headlines.

Travel Industry Leads Spending on Internet of Things Initiatives
The “Internet of Things” (or IoT), the trend of connecting various sensors and devices to company networks, gets a lot of hype in the press, but not as much analysis of how it impacts business spending. However, according to a recent report, the travel industry is leading the way in IoT implementation, with average spending per company reaching $128 million in 2015. Initiatives like smart sensors in airplane engines, smartphone beacons in theme parks and keyless hotel room entry are all helping to transform the industry. Read more

How Hilton’s New Tru Brand Plans to Emphasize Mobile Services
This week saw the announcement of Hilton’s new millennial-focused Tru hotel chain, a brand that intends to use low price and minimal room design to capture younger traveler spending. One interesting aspect of how the brand intends to court younger travelers is its emphasis on mobile services. Among the mobile-friendly features are complimentary Wi-Fi to encourage video streaming on personal devices, mobile check-in, mobile room selection and mobile-enabled keyless room entry. Read more

Google Launches New Mobile-Focused Trip-Planning Tools
Many travelers start their trip planning process by conducting search engine queries for topics like “things to do” or “top destinations.” Up until now, many of the search results for such questions referred searchers to the websites of travel publishers. However a new tool from Google could upset this dynamic. The search company recently launched a new feature in its results to automatically display travel itinerary suggestions, restaurant picks and hotel prices. The move could further dilute referral traffic to platforms like TripAdvisor and third-party travel websites that depend on Google for visitors. Read more

How Technology is Changing Aviation Weather Forecasts
You might not think of weather-induced flight delays as a marketing issue. Yet the fact is that thousands of flights each year are canceled, delayed or re-routed because of inclement weather, leading to significant passenger costs (the FAA puts the figure at $6.7 billion) along with significant anger. However, a range of new weather forecasting and tracking tools, specifically designed with the airline industry in mind, might help lessen such weather hassles in the future. Read more

Tourism Australia Taps Actor Chris Hemsworth for New Marketing Campaign
Tourism Australia is unveiling its latest $40 million marketing effort this week, partnering with Aussie actor Chris Hemsworth (of Thor and Avengers fame) on a new campaign highlighting the country’s wealth of aquatic and coastal amenities. Though the use of a celebrity tourism ambassador isn’t a first for the travel industry (celebrities like Taylor Swift and Rihanna have done such work for NYC and Barbados, respectively), the selection of Hemsworth is a nod to the growing influence of TV, music and movie content on travel decisions. Read more

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