The problem with new forms of technology appearing on the scene is that for travel brands, there is a lot of evaluating needed.
This is an obvious statement, of course.
But for the travel industry, which is completely underpinned by technology these days, the role of the chief technology officer (or the Tech Head within an organization) is to understand if the shiny and new processes that many are bombarded with are worth their time and effort.
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This is perhaps more relevant now than it has been in 10 years or so.
In the mid-2000s, new developments were less about the very fabric of how the industry operates technically, and more to do with the introduction of next-gen web platforms and consumer interfaces (remember Web 2.0?).
Yet as the industry nears the end of the second decade of the 21st century, some argue that the technology entering the market has the potential to overhaul so much more.
Take artificial intelligence and machine learning, two buzz phrases that have been bandied around for a few years as techniques to consider in the industry.
The concepts behind "big data" (a phrase that is now rarely heard), whereby organizations should collect and analyze as much data on their customers and behavior as possible, are the basis for what AI and machine learning can do to a brand's engagement and assistance with travelers.
These are perhaps the two most important (and vital) new forms of technology to help the travel industry - but many companies would still admit privately that they have yet to figure EXACTLY what they're going to do.
Two tech trends that are arguably more peripheral, yet - depending on who you ask - extremely important, developments are voice technology and blockchain.
We covered both in detail on PhocusWire during 2018 (in our Voice and Blockchain theme months), but the the juries are definitely still out deliberating their usefulness as revolutionary developments that require widespread adoption in the industry.
REGISTER NOW! Voice, blockchain and AI experts speak at The Phocuswright Conference 2018
The reasons are varied. Many are sceptical of blockchain, for example, due to the Wild West nature with which it is being peddled through an aggressive attitude to illustrate its importance.
The industry is not known for its glowing acceptance of new processes that are either confusing or pushed by people with firm stances that do not accept there are ways of operating that do essentially perform very well.
Voice technology has raised doubts of a different kind.
And, refreshingly, this centers on the role of the consumer in its introduction (something that often goes amiss). Many travelers may have voice-enabled interfaces in their own homes but are still not ready or, worse for its supporters, bothered by the often awkward way it is supposedly meant to make things easier on a trip.
So, in short, it is a crucial time for the Tech Heads to understand what works and what doesn't work for their respective businesses.
Issues for Tech Heads
Some key areas for discussion at The Phocuswright Conference:
- Blockchain as the future of everything.
- Bringing AI and machine learning to the fore to genuinely help brands and customers.
- Voice as an enabler, not a distraction.