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Digitally Re-Imagining Travel

Digitally Re-Imagining Travel

CIO

Mike Croucher, Chief Architect and Head of Technical Strategy at Travelport

‘We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another [1]’, the fourth industrial revolution is transforming all industries and travel is evolving. As we look at the digital and social changes, businesses are reinventing themselves, these technology advancements are enabling travellers to demand a personalised, customer-centric perspective.

As Chief Architect and Head of Technical Strategy at travel commerce platform Travelport, I am passionate about the opportunities and challenges these changes bring to the travel industry. But what is digital transformation? In travel, I believe there are five main forces: Internet of Things, Mobile, Artificial Intelligence, Big data and Cloud Technologies. 

These drivers are enabling change, allowing the traveller to interact with the world around them through the Internet of Things and their mobile device, driven by Artificial Intelligence and educated by data and analytics; powered by the abundance of commute available locally on the device, and globally by cloud technologies. This is enabling wayfinding, personalisation of travel, disruption management, social interaction and recommendations, giving the traveller an immersive experience instead of a series of disjointed travel products. The younger generation are no longer buying assets, investing in pensions and saving for life of retirement, they are demanding and investing in a personalised, ‘Instagram-friendly’ experience. They want to share through social media, necessitate recommendations and validate through their peers. 

Travel companies have traditionally invested in large ‘systems of records’, offering processes to create, update and change the state of these records, ultimately exposing these processes to the traveller. This has required the traveller to execute complex business processes, understand the idiosyncrasies and spend time and energy stitching together the journey themselves. To enable this, industries of interpreters have emerged offering the capability to translate the travellers request into a machine command, whether that be travel agencies, call centres or travel management companies, all focused on the art of booking the product rather than delivering an experience. 

The winners of tomorrow will be those that reimagine travel and the emergence of ‘systems of intelligence’, using the digital technologies to personalise and immerse the traveller, assisting as an individual travel advisor and concierge. Travellers will not want to move through a variety of websites and search engines, researching and combining offers, but will expect travel to come to them in their social platforms or ‘systems of engagement’.  

I believe the key of the fourth industrial revolution over the third, is not the ability to automate and speed up the current business model or process, but it is to reinvent the business model and processes, applying artificial intelligence and data and analytics to today’s world. Businesses need to not only improve, they need to re-imagine to disrupt.

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