Everyone loves a prediction or two, not least when it comes to figuring out what might be coming down the path for the travel industry.
So, step forward Johnny Thorsen, senior director for strategy and product marketing at Concur, who at the CAPA World Aviation Summit in Helsinki last week came up with three ideas that he believes could happen in the travel industry between now and 2020.
Some context, first of all.
Mobile will be at the heart of everything (it's probably only half way there, as it stands in 2015), with subscriptions continuing to soar on a global basis to a level of around ten billion estimated to be in play by 2020.
Traffic to mobile devices is already overtaking that via desktops in some countries, with the majority of others expected to reach a similar milestone in the next few years.
Fourteen countries around the world have more than 100 million subscribers in 2015, with Egypt and Iran expected next and US and Germany (currently in third and eleventh spot in the global list) shifting down over time against other countries.
Against the backdrop of all this, some other, less dramatic predictions are almost likely to come to fruition.
These include the rise of Airbnb as some kind of hotel chain; in-flight entertainment solely as a BYOD (Bring - or Borrow - Your Own Device) service; and aircraft boarding optimisation services using technology.
But back to Thorsen. Here are his three:
1. Independent universal travel profile
Details are sketchy on what organisation might provide such a thing (the universal PNR has been bounded around for years), but given that Google and Facebook are in strong positions when it comes to owning so much of a consumer's data already, it wouldn't be a surprise is Facebook Connect and Google accounts move into this space.
The idea of the profile would be that it could contain everything about an individual that any part of the train foodchain might need, not least in order to deal with a traveller's problems or help with suggestions for bookings (based on previous behaviour or connections within their network).
By 2020, a majority of travel service requests (especially in business travel, where much of the human interaction between travellers on-the-road still exists) will be processed by "travelbots".
These are essentially automated communication platforms which are designed to interact with customers, predict needs and make decisions based on past behaviour and crown (colleague or fellow traveller) behaviour.
If a human service is desired, it will become a "premium" product.
3. Virtual airline
This would be a service, mobile-hosted, where a brand would acquire a certain number of daily seats in advance from an airline, to select destinations. It would focus on sold-out or over-capacity routes in order to protect the model and increase demand.
Pricing would be based on last-minute availability and ranging from extremely cheap to a premium, dependent on seat type and class. Surge pricing would be an obvious consequence.
Distribution would be solely by a mobile device (similar to HotelTonight), with additional features and services designed for increasing loyalty.Boarding cards, check-in and other administrative items would be handled exclusively via the device.
Such a service could be run by Google, Thorsen says, with it seen by airlines (in stark contrast to previous comments about the search engine giant elsewhere at the conference) as a mechanism for handling so-called distressed inventory.
NB:2020 image via Shutterstock.
NB2: Disclosure - author's travel and accommodation costs were supported by CAPA event sponsor Travelport.