Over the next decade, the world’s population will swell by more than a billion people, and Amadeus predicts that as a result, the global travel market will grow 5.4% per year, outpacing global GDP growth by 2% annually.
The burgeoning global population will be mobile in more ways than one. The GSMA’s Mobile Economy 2014 report predicts that there will be 9.2 billion active mobile connections by 2020, spread across 4.3 billion unique subscribers.
As a result, digital interactions will dominate. Microsoft predicts that by 2020, 85% of all customer interactions will be digital. Hand-in-hand with digital’s rise will come the expectation of personalization. Combine the expanding capabilities of digital with the personalized counsel that humans can provide, and business travel as we know it will change forever.
Here’s how we envision your pre-trip experience:
Contextual service design
Travelers will be continuously connected to agents and their services via mobile devices and ubiquitous Wi-Fi, from front door to taxi door to coffee shop door and beyond. This means that small pain points in customer journeys can be solved in real time – if not pre-emptively – based on an individual’s context and the conditions around them. Services become responsive, specifically geared for individuals at precise points in their journey, and travelers feel taken care of at every turn. People need never hit an unexpected traffic jam en route to the airport, miss a last-minute gate change or settle for a mediocre meal on-the-go again.
The line between commerce, e-commerce and m-commerce will dissolve, enabling travelers to move from one platform to another as they go about their day without any disruption. Seamless, mobile-first experiences will allow people to connect with their travel agents however they’d like to at any given moment, moving from phone conversations to online booking to mobile confirmation without missing a beat.
Businesses will be able to opt in to eco-friendly options, furthering the advance of the travel industry toward a smaller carbon footprint. Alternative fuel flights and less resource-intensive travel options such as trains, and increasingly high-speed rail, will become comparatively more affordable as fuel prices rise, making it more attractive for business travelers to choose more sustainable journeys. Readily available information will make it easier for customers to understand various options and their repercussions, empowering them to make conscientious choices that meet their business objectives and values.
As traveler data becomes more readily shared and accessible, seating will become smart. Business travelers will automatically be seated according to their on-record preferences (e.g. near co-workers, near networkers, near strangers). These pairings will extend to ground transportation from airport to final destination as well, allowing for shared cabs and other efficiencies. Beyond efficiencies, the availability of social data and user profiles will enable serendipity as well, connecting travelers to friends and colleagues they didn’t even know were in town. And travel services providers will be able to link such serendipity to rewards for travelers – share a cab with your in-town co-worker and get a free drink at the hotel bar together.
Integrated booking systems and traveler profiles will allow travel agents to have a complete picture of what an ideal trip might entail. As business trips increasingly overlap with personal vacations, it will be important for agents to be able to tailor suggestions and opportunities to specific travelers based on preference profiles, loyalty memberships, and trip details. Additionally, personalized recommendations will extend beyond activities to things like in-flight entertainment, airport dining and even well-being and nutrition tips. As these personalized recommendations become more widespread and accurate, travelers will feel more comfortable sharing information with agents because they appreciate the return delivered on their data.
We’ll talk more about what’s coming to help travelers during their trip and after their trip in upcoming posts. Check back soon!