I honestly don't think there will be a one-app-to-rule-them-all in travel
Quote from Niklas Andreen, senior vice president and managing director of hospitality and digital at Travelport, during a PhocusWire-moderated session at the Business Travel Show in London.
Connected supplier technology - Good for travelers, good for travel managers?
Tinkering with a phrase used by Tolkien in his book, The Lord Of The Rings, the concept of "one-app-to-rule-them-all" has been thrown around in the travel industry for a number of years.
The idea is that at some point, travelers will be fed up with having to use multiple travel apps on their mobile devices and, as a result, a multi-layered service will emerge that does everything for them.
Andreen and his fellow panellist at the session this week, Max Waldman of Conichi, do not believe this is possible as the ecosystem is so vast and varied in terms of its processes and the players involved, that it would restrict such an eventuality.
They may be right, of course. The premise for such a tool is built on the understanding that those involved in providing the data and functionality to make it work would be happy to collaborate and share their respective user's data.
The industry, in many respects, is not known for such widespread unity between brands that, essentially, all want to "own the customer" for themselves.
But flip the discussion the other way.
As more bits of functionality are added to the arsenal of services that can be handled by mobile devices (unlocking hotel or rental doors, holding tickets for an attraction, ability to re-book a flight and add an extra night a hotel simultaneously), travelers will surely migrate to services that do more for them than to those that cannot.
Suppliers (hotels, airline, car rental providers) will be forced to do more with the partners that hold the hand of the customer at the beginning of the process. And many do now - but this is only going to become more complicated as they include more tools for the customer.
Online travel agencies and travel management companies (Egencia was also involved in the discussion and is obviously in favour of a simplified process for travelers) would love to be in the position of handling the needs of travelers throughout the entire customer journey - and that's the literal journey, too.
But even they are beholden to the whims and functionality of suppliers.
It is this tension that inspires some to think that an external force (let's call it that) could figure how to tackle the issue in a different way.
Google Trips, as we discussed last week, has the potential to do this.
But perhaps it is another brand, such as an Apple (remember iTravel?), which could see the opportunity and, because it is not involved in the selling of supplying ends of the travel foodchain, figure out a way to, perhaps not rule them all, but help them all.