|Enhancing Travel through Technology: Interview with PhoCusWright's Managing Director.|
By Louise Osborne ~ Exclusive from ITB 2014
Thursday, 20th March 2014
Exclusive ITB Feature: Big data, technology and accommodation-sharing platforms are all having a big impact on the way hoteliers and the travel industry do their business;
Instead of using traditional market practices, companies are increasingly having to move online to get attention for their products.
Managing director of travel industry research company PhoCusWright, Tony D'Astolfo (right), speaks exclusively with 4Hoteliers.com about how the tourism industry has changed and the upcoming trends.
How has the tourism industry changed in recent years?
I think the biggest part is the impact of technology continuing to evolve all the phases of travel. The advent of mobile, smart phones, tablets, they're having a huge impact on how people search, book and review travel.
All of this technology, whether it's web properties, review properties or mobile apps, has enhanced travel opportunity or the proliferation of companies that have emerged based solely on the technological development, companies like Hotels Tonight, a mobile app, which went straight from the opportunity in the mobile app to do something and that's having the biggest impact on travel.
Companies are having to adapt completely. The suppliers really have to figure out how they engage with customers because it's not the typical engagement, now they have to engage throughout the trip, leveraging whatever device people are using.
What do you think are the most important trends in the travel industry apart from technology?
There's still distribution and how that is playing out. Then on the airline side, there has been a whole change in the product and the way they market it. It's not only just a seat but a menu of products within that such as; do you want a little extra leg room? Do you want an in-flight meal? Wifi? All of those things now create a different opportunity for the service provider and the infrastructure. They have to figure out how to accommodate that and I think that's one of the reasons that the dot com airline sites have increased their usage over OTAs because they've created these products that are independent.
The sharing model is going to have a huge impact. Airbnb is the biggest provider of accommodation in the world based on the fact they've been able to aggregate your flat and avail that out there. If you look at business models, they are adapting based on the changes that are happening in things like sharing and distribution.
But a lot of it gets fueled by a new opportunity relative to technology and the fact I can all of a sudden show my vacation home and list it and get into the business of being a hotelier, where before that that was pretty much impossible.
Do you think big data also having an impact?
Big data has the potential. There's so much information out there, that when you start to pull it together, analyse it and create intelligence then you've got a huge opportunity to market better, to refine your marketing spend and to engage customers in a much more thoughtful manner and they will appreciate it.
This is strictly an exclusive feature, reprints of this article in any shape or form without prior written approval from 4Hoteliers.com is not permitted.
Louise Osborne is a correspondent and editor based in Berlin, Germany. She began her career working at regional newspapers in the UK and now works with journalists across the globe as part of international journalism organization, Associated Reporters Abroad (ARA).
Living abroad for the second time, she continues to be fascinated by places both near and far, and boards a plane eagerly, as often as she can.
Louise writes a weekly exclusive column for 4Hoteliers.com