This is a viewpoint from David Chapple, event director for Travel Technology Europe.
There are so many innovations in hotel and travel technology at the moment that it is a challenge to single out what will be the must-have technology of 2018.
Crucial to buyers in Europe will be technology that helps them comply with the glut of regulations that come into effect in 2018 - PSD2, the updated Package Travel Directive and GDPR.
Meanwhile, travellers have more options and choices than ever before and that means it’s increasingly hard to get their attention, so 2018 is also going to be a crucial year to invest in technology to improve customer experience.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has already taken the travel and hotel industries by storm and it looks set to continue in 2018. Our own research suggests it is one of the technologies that industry buyers expect to have the biggest impact in 2018 and it will feature prominently on our conference programme. The travel industry is using AI in lots of different ways, from enhancing back office and search functionality to using chatbots in customer service.
The potential for chatbots in travel is endless, from helping customers choose destinations to virtual hotel concierges and in-room voice assisted technology. Many of these services can also be integrated with apps that the customer already has, such as Facebook Messenger, making it a cost effective and user friendly technology. It’s possible that in 2018 we’ll see near ubiquitous adoption of chatbots.
Bulky hotel keys are often a hassle for travellers, as is waiting around for your keys to be issued in reception after a long journey. Mobile keys and check-in are revolutionising the guest experience and making it really simple for guests to quickly gain access to their rooms. Hotels such as Hilton and Marriott are already rolling out digital keys, while companies such as Open Key have made this technology accessible and affordable. It’s also gaining traction in the serviced apartment and short term lettings markets as well where turnaround speed is really important.
You might be wondering why mobile apps are on this list. They are nothing new you say. Well that’s exactly right but that’s also exactly why they are on the list. According to Statista, as of September 2017 there were 3.3 million apps available in the Google Play store compared to just under 700,000 in September 2012. This massive growth has been accompanied by developments in mobile app technology. Many companies who launched apps four or five years ago may be looking to refresh them in 2018 in order to remain competitive and stay relevant.
When booking travel users want to feel confident. They are often spending large amounts and potentially travelling to new places. Instilling confidence in that booking process is really important, especially if it is all done virtually and on a mobile phone. According to eMarketer US mobile travel sales are expected to grow from approximately $75.84 billion in 2017 to $108.75 billion in 2021. To get a slice of this pie it is crucial that travel companies produce mobile apps that are easy and simple to use. Search functionality must be good, country redirection and local information must be in place and there must be simple navigation so customers can easily find what they are looking for.
In the year of GDPR and PSD2 the term "data scraping" might send shivers down your spine. However, there is no specific law against scraping or using publicly available information provided it does not breach IP rights or data protection legislation. One of our exhibitors, AirDNA is creating a stir in this area by providing detailed data and insights on short-term rentals to help accommodation providers understand trends and identify new opportunities.
The value of Bitcoin has skyrocketed in recent months and with that brings Bitcoin millionaires as well as more people buying into Bitcoin. New Bitcoin ATMs are opening up and there are even people buying property and companies paying wages in Bitcoin. Companies need to consider their payment strategies in 2018 to make sure that they are enabling all customers to pay in the way that they want to pay and that may mean branching out to include Bitcoin.
There will no doubt be technologies that we haven’t even heard of that become big in 2018. We’ve introduced a Launchpad area at Travel Technology Europe where we showcase 15 ground-breaking start-ups. Maybe one of these companies will provide us with a new buzzword for 2018!
Travel Technology Europe takes place on 21-21 February 2018 at Olympia London. It runs alongside the Business Travel Show. To register for free for both shows click here:
This is a viewpoint from David Chapple, event director for Travel Technology Europe. It appears as part of the tnooz sponsored content initiative..