At some point or other someone is always gazing into a crystal ball predicting the future of the travel industry
It’s understandable given the tremendous impact, say, mobile has had in the travel space, or the daily emergence of new sites that offer interesting new search processes.
There are sophisticated strategies designed to reach the consumer directly with ideas, deals, discounts, bargains and filtered reviews and content.
We’ve come a long way from just algorithmic, transactional search engine sites .
What most travelers don’t know, is that travel experts neatly divide the travel buying experience into discrete phases :
• Dreaming, Planning, Booking, Experiencing and Sharing.
The new Facebook “Open Graph” and the concept of “seamless sharing” may well impact the travel industry at least in the planning stages of travel
As Tnooz says, the new Facebook tools will allow friends to participate in their friends’ travel plans almost step-by-step, as in where they booked a flight; what guide book or site they referred to; what apps they used to help them navigate Paris, etc.
But the early stage of “Dreaming” has been neglected in the development of booking and sharing- oriented sites, so it’s interesting to see Hotelmarketing.com note that the potential for innovation, particularly in the early stages of dreaming and researching is “astounding.”
Rob Torres, head of travel at Google, says that in 2012 watch for new sites that play into a traveler’s need to dream, to be “turned on,” as a major factor in taking the next steps in considering where, when and how to travel.
So, while Google claims it has no intention of entering the booking stage of the travel space, according to Nigel Huddleston, head of Google Travel UK and Ireland, it plans to play an increasing role in the sharing and experiencing stages of travel.
We think video will play a huge role in this and believe one of our own companies, Travel Video PostCard is already playing a role in shaping how travelers begin to conceive of and get excited by their travels.
And of course mobile’s relationship to travel continues to grow and grow:
• The number of mobile users researching travel is expected to grow 51% in 2012
• 34% of all US smartphone users research from their mobile device
• 23% of all international travelers use mobile check-in for flights
• By 2012 18% of mobile users will also book from their smart device
While mobile probably has the single biggest impact, it seems like reviews (good, bad and indifferent) will continue wield great influence and are embraced by just about all providers of travel content and information.
But with more and more claims of corrupted or fake reviews, one wonders how the impact of reviews on travelers will be affected.
In travel, the future is today.