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Content of this video: Future of hotels, airlines and travel agents – innovation in the travel industry. Future of business travel and leisure travel. Travel industry continues to be vulnerable to major shocks – politically, global economy, environment or other factors ranging from volcanic eruptions to the Arab Spring.  Strategies of travel companies and global corporations are being overtaken by events.  Impact of energy prices on future of aviation and global travel.

* This keynote on future of the travel industry is by Patrick Dixon, whose clients include Google, Airbus, KLM, Air France, Virgin Atlantic and many other travel organisations.

Need a world-class travel industry keynote speaker for your event? Phone or e-mail Patrick Dixon now

Future travel industry in emerging markets such as India, China and Russia

Expect spectacular growth of aviation and rail travel in emerging economies such as China and India.  The irresistible human desire to travel, explore, and gain new experiences will underpin consistent global growth in travel and tourism, despite new carbon and aviation taxes.  Globalisation will also continue to force executives to sacrifice home life for travel, despite growth of teleworking and virtual teams.

Business travel will grow every year over the next 20-30 years, powered by growth in emerging markets, while travel within the EU and the US will remain relatively static.  Russia internal and international air travel will also grow rapidly.  Asia will represent more than 40% of the global economy in Purchasing Power Parity by 2015.

China travel bookings are already worth more than $100bn a year of which $15bn was booked online in 2012 – up 500% on 2008 figures.  Expect huge changes in how people are organizing their own travel.

Why all travel is about emotion and experience

What is travel really about?  Business travel is dominated by one word – not economics or saving money, but by the same issue which is driving leisure travel.  One single word is influencing all of human history.  That word is emotion: related to passions, desires to breathe the same air as the people we work with or talk to.  That is why audiences don’t like listening to keynote conference speakers on a video relay. 

Travel is about building trust with business colleagues. Emotion is about understanding local cultural context, about relating to customers in a deep way.

Impact of video conferencing, Skype, Facetime, virtual teams and virtual working on future of business travel

It is true that videoconferencing is growing 20% a year but not enough to curtail business travel.  Most people do not enjoy video conferencing and prefer to talk on the phone – unless video is between family members.  In the workplace, most people are relatively uncomfortable to perform in front of a camera.  Expect that to change, but the fundamental need for human relationships will drive travel.

Impact of Virtual Travel Assistants on organisation of business travel

It is ironic that most people have better technology at home and faster bandwidth, than they do at work.  They also have better experiences online with things like travel tools – using personal Apps like Tripit which reports with SMS, diary updates and so on with live updates of flight delays, alternative routing suggestions.  Virtual travel assistants are a big growth industry in the personal retail travel market, but in the workplace very few companies are operating with the same sophistication.  But business and leisure worlds are fusing.

Let’s look at the experience of an individual trying to book a flight.  In the UK already, 1 in 3 people no longer watch conventional TV – they have shifted to watching web streamed TV programmes.  The web has also made us very impatient – as we are used increasingly to information appearing in a second or two.

Business travel trends in Russia - impact of online bookings

Russian online travel bookings are growing 20% a year – already $90bn of business a year in 2012.   Old style travel agents will struggle in Russia in future.

Hotels that fail to give instant online prices and online bookings will soon find they are losing significant business to truly online competitors.  Most travel call centres are stuck in the last century – with operators unable to understand the multichannel world of the customer on the end of the phone, who may have 15 web pages open, with ipad, iphone and portable PC all active.

Price comparison websites are already transforming the entire travel industry with impact not only on airlines but also charter holidays, cruise holidays and so on. Old business models are dead – just one example is the way in which airlines are changing the rewards they offer to travel agents.

How to improve business traveller customer experience

A key issue for business travellers is productivity – for example high speed web access on a rail or air journey.

Most airlines and hotels have a poor understanding of what life is really like for business travellers.  For example, a traveller on a long haul flight outbound will be working hard, needing power, probably few movies and not much food.  On the flight home, number one priority is a flat bed in a quiet, dark cabin, then on-demand excellent food and drink.

Smart airlines know what time clock each business traveller is on:  UK or US on flight from New York.  How do they know?  Because of the country of origin and because they know if the person is travelling out or home.

Hotels likewise are painfully unaware often of basic human needs.  For example, a business traveller arriving after a 14 hour flight is often likely to need, more than anything else, rapid access to the room to use the toilet (!)  I remember once being ushered as a VIP to sit down at a special check in desk, offered expresso or a glass of wine while they photocopied my passport – but I just wanted a room key.

And then problems in the room:  here is just one “little thing” that matters. Many top hotels don’t provide irons which is a terrible omission.  A busy executive arrives at midnight and has a first meeting at 8am. The last thing he or she wants to do is to phone for service to take a shirt or pair of trousers away to be ironed. They want to go to sleep.  My own informal surveys at conferences show that most executives land up hanging up trousers and shirts in the shower, because they have no shower. A friend of mine brought his own iron, and then fused the lights in his room (!)

Free wifi matters – life is too short to bother with credit cards and adding the charges to the room is not clever since many business people are liable for such extras, while the room charge goes to their client.  It is very mean to charge for web access on top of a massive premium hotel room charge.

Mobile marketing to multichannel customers, Big Data and why little things often matter most

Hotels that fail to get these kinds of things right are being punished in social media.  Sites like Tripadvisor are already having a huge influence on traveller decisions.  The fact is that most travellers believe the opinion of a complete stranger more than the words on any official website.

Location-based marketing and mobile-linked travel tools will also become very important to the travel industry in the next 3-5 years, all linked to Big Data.

Need a world-class travel industry keynote speaker for your event? Phone or e-mail Patrick Dixon now

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Thanks for promoting with Facebook LIKE or Tweet. Really interested to read your views. Post below.

April 02, 2019 - 12:17

Great article,

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