Many in the digital and wider industrial world await Mary Meeker’s/Bond's annual Internet Trends Report with a fair amount of anticipation
for what can be expected for their sector.
Travel is no exception, so we dug into the report from the legendary analyst and investor to pull out five things to watch in travel technology and distribution.
The 333-page report is also embedded at the foot of this story. It's worth browsing through for broader trends such as open internet, cyber security and lots more.
There is no doubt that the big online travel companies, or online companies with influence in travel, are getting bigger in terms of valuation (but not always in corresponding revenue).
Meeker’s report highlights the top 30 leaders in global internet market capitalization, with Alibaba (think Fliggy), Tencent (Tongcheng-eLong merger, Mafengwo's investment, etc.), Booking Holdings, Uber and Meituan Dianping all in the top 20.
The value of all these companies has grown in the past two years and more than doubled in some cases, such as Alibaba, while others have seen more modest growth in market capitalization, such as Booking Holdings at 15%.
Neither Uber nor Meituan were featured two years ago, as they were not publicly listed companies in 2016.
When it comes to overall revenue growth of these internet leaders, the figures are not as significant. Individual companies are not broken out, and the report concludes that revenue growth is slowing.
Unsurprisingly, digital usage is up, and the report draws on insight from eMarketer to reveal that adults in the United States spend more than six hours daily on digital media, with more than three and a half hours spent on mobile.
Platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, WeChat and Instagram are the sites used more than once a day by global users, with YouTube and Instagram gaining the most ground from the middle of 2017 to the end of 2018.
The percentage of internet users going to YouTube increased from 22% to 27% over the period, while Instagram went from 13% to 19%.
Digital video viewing has more than doubled in the past five years when compared to growth in television.
The report highlights short-form video such as Facebook and Facebook Messenger Stories as doubling in a year, with almost 1.6 billion global daily active users.
Instagram said recently that travel attracts one of its most engaged audiences on the platform
and that users are twice as likely to watch video than other audiences.
Images were highlighted as part of the future of search in the 2016 report and
are again highlighted in this year’s report as “an increasingly relevant way to communicate.”
The report highlights drivers such as cellular data use, increases in smartphone usage as well as increasingly powerful devices and Wi-Fi reach as helping image creation.
It also points to the evolution of image usage on platforms such as Instagram from editing and sharing originally to commerce today.
One trend that is already making travel companies sit up and take notice is the evolution of data. The report tracks its use from 1995 when “winning businesses” such as Amazon were using digital insights to enhance the customer experience.
In the 2000s, “winning businesses” were those that were building and employing data “plumbing tools."
Now it’s about collecting the data, managing connections (think social media monitoring) and optimizing the data.
Accor and its partnership with Confluent are called out in the report with actions triggered such as fraud detection and guest preferences as soon as a customer makes a booking.
Data and artificial intelligence are also discussed in the context of how, if used properly, they can improve customer satisfaction.
The Accenture report on personalization reveals 91% of consumers prefer brands that make personalized offers or recommendations
and almost three-quarters are willing to actively share data in exchange for personalized experiences.
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The whole area of personal data collection and sharing is a hot issue at the moment, and many believe things have already gotten out of hand.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee talked recently of the internet as very broken and provided a view on how things
might change for the better.
And, there also continues to be huge concern around manipulation of platforms as well as cyber attacks on personal information with both Marriott and Cathay Pacific suffering breaches in the past year.
A quote in the trends report that sums up the challenges comes from Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer of Microsoft, who says: “We need a new generation of laws to govern a new generation of tech."
A whole section of the report is devoted to internet trends in China, which has been put together by Hillhouse Capital.
Macro trends are highlighted as well as key internet usage trends, such as the increase of mobile internet users, which is up 8% year-on-year.
Short-form video gets a number of mentions in the report including increases in its users and usage in China.
Time spent watching short-form video on mobile is rising in the region from more than 300 million hours in 2018 to 600 million in 2019.
The section also highlights how games have helped create the mini programs ecosystem in platforms such as WeChat.
The evolution of super apps also gets a mention, with Meituan going from a group buying concept to a super app offering services from Booking.com, Kayak and Airbnb.
Alipay also gets a mention for its development from payments to a super app that now has more than 200,000 mini programs and more than a billion users.
* Here is Meeker's full deck for 2019:
Internet Trends 2019 by on Scribd