Discover the ‘iPod’ in your travel business through cross-fertilization of ideasNewsBy Viewpoints | October 23, 2013Share This article was originally published on Businesses have taken immense advantage of cross-disciplinary ideas by either recruiting talent across industries and cultures or by mimicking a certain aspect from similar industries.NB: This is a viewpoint by Vijay Raghunathan, Consultant at Cognizant Business Consulting.A fine example of this is the food we eat. By combining various cuisine-styles, new recipes are born each day. There have been success and failures with this "mash-up" approach.Today, we are seeing co-creation and crowd-sourcing leading to the phenomena called ‘democratization’ of innovation. Defined focus groups are selected or are self-created in bringing new products to markets, a process which is seeing better acceptability amongst customers.A highly successful example of crowd-sourcing has been the ‘My Starbucks Idea’ program, led by the world's largest retail coffee company. The program allows anyone to submit an idea through the “My Starbucks Idea” portal, while allowing users the ability to rate different ideas.The simplicity in the execution and the transparency of the exchange enables participation and enthusiasm from all. This allows for a fast-track from ideation to the market.Crowd-sourcing has immense potential because of the same reason – the power at the intersection of ideas, concepts and cultures.Intersection of industries and cultures has resulted in many exemplary ideas. A few examples from the travel industry: The use of telematics in car rentals for understanding customer driving behavior which in turn results in lower or higher insurance premiums.Travel suppliers such as airlines, hotels, OTAs adopting the online retail model (such as shopping carts) for booking and merchandizing.Bob Cross, a revenue analytics consultant who devised Coke’s juice algorithm is the same person who has also developed the model that Delta Airlines uses to maximize its revenue per mile flown.By combining game techniques with routine mundane tasks in business, 'Gamification' was born.Network and fleet planning in airlines and car rentals respectively has immensely benefited due to the knowledge of ‘network effect’ from the telecom industry.The use of baby sitters in households has led to the establishment of the concept of ‘flying nannies’ and has been well received by the travellers.No-frills discount brokerage service started by Charles Schwab in the financial world gave way to a new business model in the airlines industry in the form of no-frills low-cost carriers.Marriott's recent Travel Brilliantly campaign, which asked travelers for suggestions to improve the hotel hospitality experience.Does your business facilitate the cross-fertilization of ideas?One of the barriers faced by companies in the development of business intelligence is due to the silos and water-tight compartment model of executing business.Integration of systems is the first and major step towards developing business intelligence and business insights and the same applies to innovation. Cross-pollination of ideas between departments is the baby step towards an innovative organization.Below are few examples of what we could possibly see in the near-future due to cross-pollination of ideas.Traveler experienceMobile POS (point-of-sale) and other wireless technologies are today enabling a faster and convenient check-out process in retail and restaurant industry. If you apply this concept to airports, air-travel convenience would have a new definition.Imagine that when you get out of your car and walk into the airport, your check-in is done simultaneously while you move to the security-check on an elevator.Even better if for a frequent-flyer, the security checks are done using NFCs (near-field communications) tied to their loyalty membership accounts.Related: How airports/airlines can implement concepts from retail industry - hereLoyalty programsReward programs are everywhere. Be it retail, car rental, or booking sites. However, with reward points comes the double-edged sword of reward point liabilities. Ballooning liabilities is a cause of concern amongst business departments and they are doing their best to make customers redeem them faster.With ever increasing competition, the concept of 'expiry period' had to be bid goodbye and concepts like 'Gamification' are introduced to increase redemption rates.How can we find a solution to this liability problem?Imagine a world where these reward points in travel industry are traded in exchanges and their valuation determined by the performance of their sponsors. Is it possible? Why not?Today, we have point trading platforms which are helping customers to trade. Similarly, there are financial instruments like derivatives which give customers an option to buy or sell a set number of stocks without investing into the company. These options have expiry periods and are for short term speculations. The options tend to decay in value towards their expiry.A similar concept can be introduced with respect to reward points. A system where reward points decay in value if not redeemed and also, the faster they are redeemed the better value one should be able to generate from it.This could perhaps lead to faster redemption and better customer satisfaction in terms of their usage. Companies like OptionTown have adopted this cross-industry concept to sell ancillaries offered by airlines for an ‘option’ price.Neuroscience and loyaltyCustomers think both emotionally and rationally while making purchase decisions. The rational decision making can be tuned to make the customer loyal to your brand. However, emotional loyalty is something which is quite abstract and difficult to understand.Companies are therefore researching the possibilities of understanding consumer behavior using neuroscience. This understanding could help them take products faster to market rather than follow lengthy go-to market strategies.The rational decision making is programmed with the help of loyalty and reward programs. However, with loyalty and reward programs offering little differentiation, customers are forced to make an emotional, rather than rational, decision.Lack of innovation and differentiation in their offerings is pushing companies to adopt models which are more than just mere imitation of current implementations.In-flight entertainment (IFE)IFEis very much talked-about these days due to the advent of tablets, smartphone devices, in-flight WIFI and pre-loaded content.Inspirations arise from the media and entertainment industry, as many new ideas have been tried and tested. For example: Virgin Atlantic tried from its part to give customers more than a share of laugh through a standup comic.Singapore Airlines installed a pair of slot machines which was an instant hit. Now, it is taking the digital and online form which customers can enjoy right from their seats. In-flight casinos and real-time gaming are arriving soon to the screen in front of you.Cloud solutionsHow does it feel to listen to your favorite music playing from the car you rented? With cloud solutions, this may soon become a reality.Personalization has reached new heights and hospitality industry is making the most of the technology available today to deliver it through all channels possible.NB: This is a viewpoint by Vijay Raghunathan, Consultant at Cognizant Business Consulting.NB 2:Bulb image via Shutterstock.