Three distinct but inter-twined trends permeate any modern industry today, including travel business.
First, connectivity in an interconnected world is central to all discussions in the travel business, followed closely by a debate on user interfaces designed to get products to consumers in obvious and user-friendly ways.
Second, data mining for business-intelligence and for customer-relationship management has been offered as a permanent solution to all problems. Actual implementations seem to be more complex and disjointed than you would expect.
Finally, more attention is being paid to ‘back of the house’ operations – the logistics of making an enterprise work. Discussions on business process optimization, automation and outsourcing are key drivers here. Very little attention is being paid to metrics – putting all relevant measures of success on a dashboard, set targets and then manage against them.
Successful enterprises today have taken all of these trends into account, and are building a future that capitalizes on the most efficient architecture.
By all accounts travel business is going to be stronger in 2007. More and more people want to explore new worlds, and at the very least have new experiences in the usual getaways. At the same time, everyone is much more tech-savvy and expects technology-enabled services from all providers. If they had a good experience with BarnesandNoble.com, they expect the same at walmart.com and LocalPizzaShop.com.
When we put together the rising expectations from technology with the travel business, it is a spotty landscape. Some parts of the travel business have embraced technology, others have not. More important, travel business is not very good at ‘talking’ to each other from a technology point of view. Big ‘aggregators’ have traditionally been limited to the handful of Global Distribution Systems, or GDS’s. Sabre, Worldspan, Apollo and Amadeus have brought together the supply of air, hotel, car and cruise inventory for almost all suppliers in the world. These systems have ‘legacy’ technology that is being upgraded to newer platforms…but not fast enough. There are plenty of tech-savvy operators who want to connect with each other to supply and consume products and services today. The real adventurous ones go ahead and build the connections; and are successful in their own small way, but they are not able to make a dent into the juggernaut that the GDS’s are.
With web-services and similar technologies becoming mainstream, it is now time to rethink the paradigm.