Friday, 18 November 2011

WTM part three: Tech trends hitting travel


The World Travel Market is always abuzz with tour operators, hoteliers, travel agents milling the huge hall looking for the next best destination, that unique deal that will scoop all the traveling consumers or find a new money-making scheme for the travel industry – however in recent years the growth area (apart from Asia and Africa) has been Travel Technology. Yes, finally travel technology has arrived – having worked in the technology industry for a few years it has been shocking at the rate of pace it’s taken the travel industry to catch up.

We’ve been buying travel online since 1995, I remember my first booking I tried to make on Expedia back in 1999 – but at that point it completely confused me so I trekked to the nearest high street travel agent to get the ticket. Since then I’ve never been to a travel agent, instead I’ve booked online for myself – surfing the world wide web for the best deals. And it’s fascinating now where to get the best deals for travel.

People assume that online travel agents like Expedia and Booking.com are going to present them the best deal; or the new portals that are ‘metasearch engine’ like Kayak.com that pulls all the deals from the internet (well this isn’t strictly true as some companies block Kayak from getting their deals), so sometimes it is much better to go direct and shop around for the best prices. This still makes the buying process somewhat tricky. When you go to Tesco/Asda to purchase food – well it’s what’s on the tin – you want baked beans you get baked beans, yet with travel you might get baked beans only (room only), or baked beans with a side (with breakfast) or baked beans on toast and a side (a little extra) or the full English breakfast (which can be array of compliments to the baked beans). Well this has already made it complex.

Yet the story in this is that while consumers want it more simple, the industry is simplifying technology to make it easier for the industry to sell more complex products. Don’t expect to compare apples for apples, for us, the traveler, we will soon have to compare apples with bacon and figure out the missing pieces and how this associates to cost.

Yes it’s not all that complex – there are technologies out there that are certainly making it more exciting for the traveler:

TravelSim http://www.travelsim.net.au/  this sim card for any phone will ensure that you get the best rates wherever you are. So if you’re a corporate traveler your personal calls can be made at your leisure without the hefty bills later, it lowers the cost for a company – and should you be an avid traveler will keep you in contact with the world – AND the world wide web with its new 3G capabilities

World Rainbow Hotels – http://www.worldrainbowhotels.com/ one of the great inventions of the last few years, finally a hotel directory of gay hotels where you can BOOK! We’ve been waiting for Spartacus to do this for sometime, but with its heritage of being a great directory, it failed to deliver so far online. This will become a great resource supported also by Gaycomfort.me

Yabbedoo.com http://yabbedoo.com/  – while this is a product for hotels to buy – it is very much for the traveler/guest. Hotels get their own dedicated iPhone application, which means guests can discover everything in the local area at their fingertips – and delete the application when they’re done. It includes bars, events, restaurants, museums and attraction – great stuff – and for hotels it’s a really good deal!

Getaroom.com http://www.getaroom.com/ is yet another OTA but this time from the former CEO and President of Hotels.com – I have a feel that this may just be a little bit successful J Check it out for your hotel deals.